Sameer Dutta, president of Co-operative Ground Durga Puja Samiti at Chittaranjan Park, does not have a moment to spare — the decorators want his advice on the last-minute touch-ups, the priest wants lotus blooms and the caterers also need to be instructed. “We are seven years shy from our golden jubilee. We are veterans in this field,” says the 54-year-old, adding, “For the last 47 years, several Bengalis in Chittaranjan Park have offered the auspicious ashtami anjali at this pandal. For those who migrated to Delhi from East Bengal in 1970s, this puja was a solace of sorts.”
This year, his pandal is made of papier-mache and dwells on an eco-friendly theme — just like several others in the neighbourhood. A few blocks away is the B-Block Durga Puja Samiti, where for more than 40 years the focus has been on the environment. “We will do the immersion in a pond we are making in the ground. We will turn the remains into manure. Steel utensils will be used to serve food rather than plastic plates. We took these initiatives to ensure that the Yamuna does not get polluted,” says Ashim Banerjee of the B-Block Samiti.
The iconic Kali Mandir Samiti puja has not embraced theme-based pujas and still adheres to traditional customs. Sandip Majumdar, secretary of CR Park Kali Mandir Society, says, “Our theme is traditional pooja. We are interested in doing the puja according to the shastras.” The samiti is meticulous about flying in flowers from Kolkata for the festivities. “We have even booked a lotus pond because we need fresh flowers on ashtami and navami,” adds Majumdar.
The colony is also home to arguably the largest puja pandal in north India — the Mela Ground Puja Samiti. Piyush Das Gupta, founding member of the Samiti, claims that they also focus on keeping the festivities “environment-friendly”. “We are in touch with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. We do not want to pollute the Yamuna. Our pandal is made of aluminum, with waterproofing. Our idols are designed in Shiv Mandir. We only give the final finishing touches in the pandal,” says Gupta.