Hardship faced by migrant labourers during lockdown theme of many Durga Puja committees

    Kolkata, Oct 18 (PTI) Many Durga Puja committees
in West Bengal have chosen themes such as the hardship faced
by migrant labourers while returning home during lockdown to
COVID-19 pandemic issue for the five-day festival starting
from October 22.
    While the journey of migrants and their plight in the
first few months of lockdown struck a chord with many
organisers, others have either paid tribute to COVID-19
warriors or showed coronavirus as the demon Mahisasura to be
destroyed by the Goddess.
    The festival is relatively low key this year due to
the pandemic and economic recession triggered by lockdown, but
many Durga Puja organisers have still pitched for theme-based
puja like in past years on contemporary issues, designing
pandal decoration, illumination and interiors - a trend
prevalent for the past 20 years.
    Taking up the migrant issue Barisha Club, in the
southern fringes of city, has installed the idol of a woman
pausing for a while on the road trail with a baby in her lap
and two children.
    "She is our Durga. Eight other hands are seen on the
background. She epitomises the migrant labourers' pain, cries,
suffering and resilience when business activities came to nil
and road communication stopped. But still, the migrant
labourers did not stay back. They boarded vehicles on their
own, walked thousands of miles, collapsed but again stood up.
This is our tribute to the migrants," a puja committee
spokesman said.
    At Naktala Udayan Sangha, a truck has been put up near
the marquee with models of migrant labourers, scrambling to
get on board the vehicle.
    "Our pandal is called waves. It reflects the waves of
returning migrants from different corners. We have employed
migrant labourers from different districts to portray the
theme," puja committee office-bearer Anjan Das said.
    The return of migrant labourers on various modes of
transport - on cycle, truck - or by walking miles, has been
depicted through mural works and models in the pandal of
Kestopur Prafullakanon Paschim Adhibasibrindo, Secretary
Ranjit Chakraborty said.
    "Our pandal will be inaugurated by the migrants who
were working round the clock since past one month and during
inauguration the entire locality will be plunged into darkness
for a while to show respect to the migrants who had died
during return," Chakraborty said.
    The battle of covid warriors against the pathogen also
features in pandals.
    At Salt Lake's A K Block, models of vendors, phuchka
seller, vegetable sellers are put up on the two sides of the
pandal while Durga has been depicted as a rustic woman.
    "Our pandal is themed on the hardships faced by these
people, who work in big cities to eke out living from their
faraway homes in villages. This is our way of remembering
their hardships during the lockdown," a spokesman of the puja
committee Raja Banik said.
     The battle of covid warriors and slaying of 'corona
sur' also features in several pujas in the state.
     Sahid Colony Sarbojonin Durgotsab in Sodepur, a
popular puja in North 24 Parganas district, has themed this
year's festivity on COVID-19 warriors like doctors, other
health workers and frontline fighters like police and other
emergency services.
    "We are putting up models of doctors and other
essential services people as revellers will approach the
pandal and there will be poster campaigns about the
contribution of these people in the battle against
coronavirus," a puja committee spokesman said.
    Shakti Sangha, a puja committee in Birati in northern
outskirts, has placed the order for Coronasur at Kumartuli.
    "Our artisan has made the asuras head look like the
virus based on the images we saw on TV. The hair, ear, crown
of the demon will have spikes like the virus. We all pray the
goddess kills the virus after the battle," treasurer Sudip Sau
    A coronavirus shaped pandal has also been erected by a
puja committee in Balurghat in South Dinajpur district.
    "We had built pandals shaped on titanic ship, Victoria
memorial in past. This year all our members wanted to make the
pandal look like coronavirus as it is on top of everyone's
mind. When the virus will finally go. This pandal will also
remind people the virus is still raging on and we should be on
guard against it always," a puja committee member said.
    Samajsebi Sangha, a popular puja in south Kolkata,
will have a stall near the pandal where a doctor will be
present with medical personnel for treating any emergency and
checking temperature of people if required, a puja committee
spokesman said.
    There are around 37,000 Durga pujas being organised in
the state. PTI SUS

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)