Arambagh Puja to celebrate the power of women with Real Life Durgas – ‘DuggAmar-Empowering Women’
Arambagh Puja is known for its uniqueness in sending a social message every year while celebrating the Puja. In 2013 Arambagh Puja’s theme was ‘Buddha & World Peace’ where Late President APJ Abdul Kalam inaugurated the puja, in 2014 it was “Annihilation of Demonic Power”. This year Arambagh is celebrating puja with the Real Life Durgas- “DuggAmar-Empowering Women”- who have successfully overcome all the obstacles in life to achieve their goal or who are still fighting for their right inspite of various social evils. DuggAmar- inspired by Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali, where Dugga with her brother Apu run across a field to see the running train (in Bengali people call Dugga instead of Durga), symbolises courage, hope & inspiration. While we worship Durga, in reality most of the women are subjected to exploitation, violence and humiliation in the family and in the society.
This year’s Arambagh Puja is a silent protest against all forms of violence against women, urges everyone to take pledge to end all forms of violence against women.
Widows, rape & acid attack survivors face humiliation in the society without their fault and looked down upon as unwanted or untouchable. To challenge such idea and restore women’s dignity and respect, Arambagh Puja Samiti has invited widows from Vrindavan, Moushumi Koyal & Tumpa Koyal of Kamduni Pratibad Mancha, Kolkata, sex workers from Sonagachi- Asia's largest red-light district in Kolkata, various NGOs such as Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee working for the betterment of sex workers, untouchables from Alwar and many more to inaugurate the puja.
Arambagh Puja in association with Sulabh International have invited fifty widows from Vrindavan to travel to Delhi during Puja so that they can cherish their childhood puja days. Sulabh International under the leadership of Dr Bindeshar Pathak has done some appreciable work for the welfare of the widows in Vrindavan and Alwar , where their plight is immeasurable otherwise.
In a major attraction this year, Puja lovers will witness a 40ft tall Adivasi woman with bow, arrow, sword in her hand, which will serve as the facade of the pandal. The Adivasi woman will represent Durga who has the power to annihilate all violence against women. The organizers want to send out the message that like Durga, a woman is strong enough to punish her violator. The Adivasi Woman is made of fibre-glass and its decoration is inspired by “Dokra”-a dying Bengali art form. A 30*15 sqft chandelier will also be specially designed for the pandal.
The main pandal will have specially designed installations and portraits of ten icons like Astronaut Kalpana Chawla, Boxer Mary Kom, Mother Teresa, Malala Yousafzai, Bhanwari Devi etc. to salute their contribution, bravery and achievements. Arambagh puja samiti will also felicitate some inspiring women at the puja as these are the Real Living Durgas of India.
Eminent painter, sculptor, Partha Biswas and Tushar Kanti Das from Kolkata with 12 students from Government Art College, Kolkata are working non-stop to construct the theme of the pandal and its interiors. While Salil Bhattacharya is making the idol of Maa Durga, two famous artists from Kumartuli have specially come down to New Delhi to design special sarees, ornaments, and decoration for the Pratima. Artistic Director Bapi Bose, one of the most prominent Directors in contemporary Indian theatre, is in charge of lights and effects.
Arambagh Puja is best known for its uniqueness in celebration and creating Kolkata’s environment with the city’s sumptuous cuisines and festivities during the Durga Puja. The Arambagh Puja, which celebrated its silver jubilee in 2013 at a budget of Rs. 1 crore, has consciously decided to keep the budgets low for this year at Rs 50 lakh. The pujas, however, will retain its essence with the same fervour creating a mini-Kolkata to woo puja lovers.
Like previous years, Arambagh Puja has adopted completely eco-friendly ways to celebrate the pujas this year too in its aim to deliver a message to the society that people should learn to cohabit with nature instead of destroying nature. The idols have been made with different kind of materials which have no harmful effects and do not pollute water. From the goddess’ idol to the murals and illustrations on the walls, everything has been made with organic materials. Even the sari of the idol is made up of mud though it looks like an original piece of garment and the entire decoration of the pandal has been done with thermocol and mud. Other eco-friendly materials; such as waste paper, herbal colours, fibre, straw and bamboo has been used, that have minimum impact on the ecology.
Mr Abhijit Bose, Executive Chairman of Arambagh Puja Samiti said, “Our entire Durga Puja arrangements are not only a celebration of Maa Durga, but Manavi Durgas who are an inspiration to all of us. This puja is a call against all the bad practices and violence meted out to women. We urge to end dowry, violence etc against women and other sporadic wickedness in society.”
“ For years, Durga Puja has become one occasion for people to come out, celebrate, meet and greet, have food and go home. We wanted to redefine the concept of celebrations. So we started putting emphasis on social themes and bring cultural personalities to signify the importance of issues such as this. Kolkata’s famed caterers will join Purani Dilli’s counterparts to serve tantalising food. Over a lakh people are expected to hit the pandal.”-Mr. Bose added.
Even the Bhandara which will be served at the pujas, will be prepared by invited chefs from Kolkata.
The cultural activities promise to be an extravaganza with cultural programme in the morning and the evening, with eminent artistes e.g Anushka Dutta Gupta, India’s Got Talent fame Sanjay Mandal and many more from Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata performing at ArambaghPuja during different days.
Amit Saha, a folk singer from Bangladesh will also come to perform at Arambagh Puja. Gotipua – a traditional dance form from Odisha is also a major attraction this year.