Highlights of different puja festivities 

Durga Puja. (ST file photo)

Jail Road since 1914

On completing 108 years, Jail Road will witness a contemporary theme based on an eco-friendly image. Its haystack pandal and green decorative elements inclusive of usage of plywood structures, natural flowers and palm trees brought all the way from Nagaon, Assam imparts a message to reflect on the present environmental urgencies. Drawing attention to its cultural itinerary, the night of Ashtami will also see ‘Super Singer’, a programme inspired and akin to the Indian Idol, that completed its auditions in prior with 60 candidates and 12 making it to the finals, who will battle it out LIVE on stage. General Secretary of Jail Road Durga Puja Committee, Biplob Paul says, “ It’s the camaraderie of our people from Jail Road that saw us through the rough times of the pandemic and that we could organise this festival with grandiosity.”

Namghar, Laban since 1922

Walking into its 101st year, Namghar envisions celebrations in its unique fashion with its statement – ‘less is more’. Beginning with flag hoisting on October 1 in presence of an artist from Guwahati, will mark overtones of deep rooted cultural leanings with ‘ojapali’ a traditional shamanistic type of indigenous folk dance from Assam, one of the major attractions. Besides, engaging programmes for children and performances by local artists from Guwahati will be marked on Ashtami. “Meghalaya’s history is shaped by the British and has a longstanding relationship with the Assamese. Namghar is open to all from across communities and religions” vocalises, President of Laban Namghar Puja Committee, Ashim Das.

Gorkha Durga Mandir, Cantonment since 1822

Marking its colossal 150th year, Gorkha Durga Mandir will observe its festivities in nine days of rituals. Marking the ‘Phul Pati’, a tradition among Nepalis of bringing nine types of Phool and pati (flowers and leaves) into the pooja room on Saptami. Observers begin with a procession starting at Jhalupara, Barapathar and Naspatighadi and culminating back at Jhalupara. “All these customs are carried out in the Kothghar, where the priest lives and conducts the aarti in the morning and evening”, says President of Gorkha Durga Puja Committee, Sharad Rana.

Other rituals include the kaalratri, on the midnight of October 3rd with the sacrifice of a goat. This is followed by the grand bali of a buffalo on October 4th, whose auspicious timings are between 9:15 am – 11am. “This act is significant of the Gorkhas’ martial ways of sacrifice”, affirms Rana. He furthers, “Immersion is not a huge custom in this particular puja because it is a permanent temple.”

Apart from the religious practices, festivities at the Mandir will also include performances by artists from Darjeeling.

Oakland since 1972

The Oakland Bivar Road puja committee has also reached a landmark year, completing its 50th anniversary. As every pandal’s aspirational unique display of grandeur, Oakland too will be crafting a distinctive look to its pandal, lighting and idols.

“To ensure that our pandal is set apart from the rest, emphasis is being laid on its interior decorators designed and excited by artisans from Kolkata ” explains Vice President of Oakland Bivar Road Sarvojanin Durga Puja Committee, Bivash Deb.

Half marathon for all, a blood donation camp, health camp, food festival, children’s programmes such as sports events and other competitions will be enlisted under its merrymaking segment.

In a first, Oakland will also witness women as part of their drumming troupe. “After the years lost in the pandemic, I wish to spread the message of love and brotherhood amongst all in Shillong”, adds, Dev

Hari Sabha since 1896

Having completed 127 glorious years of durga puja celebrations in Shillong, Hari Sabha finds itself a paramount place also being the first to behold such revelries in the city. This puja committee has suffered a few blows, before executing its quasquicentennial anniversary. Firstly, its 125th year was  scheduled to be held in  2020. However, due to the pandemic worldwide, these celebrations were deferred and will see the light of day this year. Secondly, an integral member of the committee, Late Moloy Talukdar  sustained injuries in a road mishap and succumbed to his injuries that left a residual sense of loss among its members. In his honour, the committee has dedicated the stage in his name as ‘Moloy Manch’.

Sharing the highlights of the celebrations, General Secretary of Hari Sabha Puja Committee, Mintu Das says, “Cultural events are all dedicated to the cause of women empowerment  or ‘Nari Shakti’.”

The overall theme will be symbolic of peace, as putting together all the segments has been tough since the pandemic, but we request all shillonites  to come along and be a part of the big event”, adds Das.

Kench’s Trace since 1948.

Accomplishing 75 years of this journey, K’Trace will see an improvised structure on its idol display, and architecture of its main pandal ever since its humble beginning in a tarpaulin pandal.

President of Central Puja Committee(CPC), Naba Bhattacharjee says, “Today, we have evolved into one of the most sought after Pujas, perhaps not be in terms of size but from the point of hospitality and sense of oneness, value system ingrained by the forefathers and pioneers of the Puja Committee.”

“Upholding the tradition of a warm reception is extended to all visitors and devotees coming to our pandal as Durga Puja is a festival for  merry making open to all from other castes and creeds”, adds Bhattacharjee.

Some of the highlights will entail presentation of Sarad Sanman to 4 recipients for the year 2020, apart from CPC’s All faith All religion Get together of harmony. The pandal will showcase distinctive artistic works. Vice President of Kench’s Trace Puja Committee, Monica Chanda elaborates, “We seek to attain a unique grandeur in our pandal with a royal palatial structure using ply boards made by people from Bilasipara. The lights and illumination will pay double homage to the culture of our land of Meghalaya, and in a historical and artistic sense to Chandannagar- the site that connects the Bengali imagination to Durga Puja stretching 350 years!”