Team M3.tv recently met up with members of a small Para Club busy organizing Durga Puja. The club looks small but boasts of great success in recent years for its Durga Puja. The women and the children of the locality play a very significant role in organizing this yearly event. In the course of the discussion with the club members some very interesting and innovative actions taken by them came up. In fact IIM-C Kolkata had invited them to share this unique experience a couple of years ago.
Manpower and budgetary constraints were the only woes this small club was facing organizing its 50th Durga Puja. The core team understood it would be essential to get people drop their problems and come together for this one year, at least. The committee had done it all but this one task proved quite an uphill one.
Almost magically, the women of the area came together to take up the challenge of facing the judges and answering all the queries that came up. For four nights in a row they had to stay awake, and with each interaction they were learning and improving. It was fascinating to hear the women talk about the bond that they fostered – it was a first for them, even though they all stayed in the same locality.
Chhau of Purulia was the theme for this small club. Everything was in place, except the people – pandal hoppers. After all the effort there was only a trickle of people coming to see their Puja. Yet the main road - barely two minutes away from this Puja pandal, was packed with cars and people making a beeline for other Puja pandals in the area.
Then came a nano-second decision by one of the leaders of this group at a little past midnight. He took a bunch of fellow members – men, women and some children to the main road. This small group formed a chain and waved down all cars crossing that way and folded their hands and asked them to visit the Puja Pandal. At first, people in their cars were a little taken aback, but in keeping with the mood that prevails during Durga Puja, many took a left turn to the right! It was a gari-dhora moment for them.
Soon the group recalled with a gleam in their eyes, how they had to offer valet parking services to make it possible for the visitors. This club did not have money for advertisement, but requested visitors to help spread the good word. Rest as they say is history – the visitors liked the Durga Puja and the Chhau dance so much that they went back and spread the word. The next few days saw huge queues at their Puja, and controlling the swelling masses turned out to be quite a task for the organisers.
By Ashtami, awards big and small came their way. Bus loads of celebrities dropped by – Ajit Wadekar was one of them. This otherwise quiet locality came alive, and young and old of the locality were thrilled at this sight.
That was fun hearing, but what is to be noted is the innovation, leadership and team work. It is not a good idea to reserve these key ingredients for only four days of Durga Puja. But then how often is one allowed the luxury to go with a wild idea like gari dhora (catching cars)? How often do people put their differences aside and come together as a team for a common cause? Of course, winning is a great feeling and nothing succeeds better than success. That is why perhaps it is said that West Bengal gets transformed during Durga Puja. Cities, towns and villages are bathed with an ethereal glow, which infects the lives of each one around.
It is indeed a special time, and surely this episode will remain special to this locality and its people for years to come.
Durga Puja, like the Goddess, is a winner in its own right.
Reading this today lifted my spirit from the gloom of another Dashami. If you really try, you can achieve many things. This is the best article on Durga Puja that I have read.
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