BHOPAL: What was supposed to be a low-key, domestic celebration of Durga Puja by three Bengali families of Sector-I, Shakti Nagar in the city, turned into a public celebration, with hundreds of devotees from different parts of the city coming to a have a darshan of the deity.
Shibani Ghosh is a social activist and director of an NGO called Parvarish – The Museum School in the city. “We Bengalis wait for the Durga Puja the whole year. It is celebrated on the last four days of (shashti to navmi) Navratri and is the biggest festival for the community,” she says.
Bengali Associations in the city mounted grand celebrations on Durga Puja every year, complete with huge Puja Pandals, idols crafted by artistes especially summoned from West Bengal, cultural functions, competitions and stalls selling vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies.
However, this year, due to the Corona-related restrictions all of them decided to forego the celebrations.
But the families of Shibani Ghosh and two of her neighbours, both Bengalis, decided to organise their own little event. A bamboo structure was wrapped with newspapers to give it a proper shape and painted with herbal colours including sindoor and turmeric. Aalta was used instead of nail paint and the saris available at home were used to dress up the Goddess. The face was made with clay and sheets of golden paper went into making the ornaments and the crown.
Shibani’s husband Pradeep Ghosh and two of her neighbours Anamika Sarkar and Kajal Sarkar worked on the idol for four days. The total money spent was just Rs 200.
A small pandal was erected in the garden of Shibani’s house and the idol was installed there. Besides morning and evening aartis, they decided to hold some cultural events. However, soon, the residents of the colony, on seeing the Pandal, started visiting it. By the second day, people from far-off localities like Gandhi Nagar, Rishipuram and Kolar Road started coming. “The number of visitors went up to more than 50 per day, forcing us to stipulate that no one should enter without mask. We also did not keep any chairs around so that the people would just have a darshan and leave.”
Shibani says that the large number of people turning up to have a darshan of a simple idol showed how people were missing outings due to the corona restrictions. She is happy that their small event has helped dispel the negativity that was in the air in the locality and created an aura of positivity. “What can be better than that?” she asks.