Durga Puja continues to be the most important festival in West Bengal and is celebrated with great enthusiasm and zeal by one and all. The Pujas organized inside the gated condominiums have a charm of their own. The members themselves form the organizing committee and carry out the responsibilities with an immense sense of ownership. It is an inclusive event where every member of the complex usually comes forward to participate.
The fun times begin with the pre-Puja meetings where the members of the residential complex come up with decisions pertaining to the proceedings. These sessions are incomplete without innumerable cups of chai and adda! The budget comprises subscription fees collected from each household as well as advertisements and donations by the members.
Involvement of one and all
The complexes have a designated space where the Durga idol is placed, and most buildings weave their puja around a theme every year. Almost all members, young and old, do their bit to contribute to the organizing of this annual extravaganza.
Bonding over ‘bhog’
Another very intrinsic part of the Pujas within these buildings is the community meals. The complexes usually utilize their community hall for this purpose. Socializing and bonding over bhog has always been the key to togetherness in societies. The members spend a lot of time deciding the menus and then indulge in further discussions on what could have been better – but these “discussions” only bring them closer!
Besides the regular festive get-together’s at each other’s homes, the cultural events are another special aspect of the celebrations. The children have a great time participating in ‘sit and draw’, fancy dress, quiz, magic shows, tambola and other fun events. The evenings are generally enlivened with cultural programmes such as singing, dancing, recitation or even theatre.
Feeling of togetherness
Overall, living together in a community is a great feeling, and people eventually begin to live like extended families. Celebrations during Pujas are an extension of this feeling of camaraderie. The last ritual of the Pujas is the immersion of the idol or the bhashan. The members travel in trucks to the banks of the Ganges and chant ‘asche bochor aabar hobe’ (the celebrations shall continue next year). This signals the never-ending spirit of hope while bidding a teary-eyed farewell to their favourite Mother.
Paying heed to the current situation
Although we are all gearing up for the Pujas, this year the celebrations will be far more muted owing to the ill-effects of the pandemic. Most housing complexes are opting for lower budgets, smaller idols, only in-house cultural shows and community meals based on the ‘new normal’. Health, hygiene and safety are the top-most priority in the minds of every Durga Puja organizing committee.
In line with the current pandemic-stricken state of affairs, the Puja celebration at Arrjaav’s condominium complex Sonar Kella at Baruipur is also going to be a low-key affair this year. A much smaller pandal will be erected while the essential components like bhog preparation as well as the community lunch will also be on a low scale. While the spirit of the residents for the festival will still be sky-high, the actual celebration this year will be far more toned down, and all health protocols will be strictly adhered to. After all, Arrjavv as a trusted brand, has created a niche for itself for always laying utmost stress in the safety and well-being of all its customers.