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Lucknow’s Durga Puja: A Grand Celebration with over 250 Pandals

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Durga Puja

Discover the vibrant and awe-inspiring festivities of Lucknow’s Durga Puja, a grand celebration that showcases the city’s rich cultural heritage and devotion. Immerse yourself in the joyous atmosphere, elaborate decorations, and mesmerizing rituals that make this event a must-visit for all.

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In 1914, Lucknow had only one Durga Puja celebration, organized by the Bengali Club. But today, the city has come a long way, with over 250 organized Durga Pujas taking place. It’s not just Bengalis who participate, but people from all backgrounds join in the festivities. This grand celebration provides employment opportunities for artists from both Lucknow and Bengal.

The Artists Behind the Magic

Niloy Mitra, A renowned sculptor and idol maker in the Talkatora area. Along with his team of eight workers from Kolkata, he is working tirelessly to put the finishing touches on over 50-60 idol orders. His father started this work decades ago with just two orders, but now Niloy receives orders from most of the big pandals in the city. To meet the demand, he hires workers from Kolkata for over three months every year.

Niloy’s cousin, Robin Mitra, is also a sculptor who has received about 50-60 orders. Some of these orders include idols as tall as 11 feet for the Nadarganj Puja and 9 feet tall for the Model House Durga Puja. Robin has employed 10 workers from Kolkata to assist him. Their basements are filled with hundreds of idols, which will soon be installed at various Durga pandals across the city.

Another famous sculptor, Sujeet Pal, used to take up to 25 orders every year. This tradition has been carried on for three generations. Sujeet and his team of sculptors from Bahraich and painters from Kolkata have created idols for various pandals in Lucknow, including Rabindra Palli and Bandhu Mahal. They even created idols for pujas in Lakhimpur Kheri and Barabanki.

The Growing Festivity

The sculptors and puja committees believe that Durga Puja celebrations are rapidly gaining popularity in Lucknow, especially after the pandemic. Many new and old pandals have contributed to the resplendent celebration in the city. People from outside the Bengali community also enthusiastically participate in the festivities.

From just one puja in 1914, the number of registered big and small pandals in the city has now exceeded 250. In 2022, 121 pandals and 133 non-pandals were established throughout the city, according to the registration of Durga Puja with Lucknow police. Additionally, 54 Raamlilas and 55 Ravaan Dahans were held.

Dimple Dutta, the secretary of Rabindra Palli Durga Puja Committee, expressed how Durga Puja used to mean visiting only a few pandals in the city, but now pandals are everywhere. Tuhin Banerjee, the administrator of the Trans-Gomti Durga Puja Committee in Aliganj, mentioned that the celebration has scaled up, although they are still behind Kolkata. Abhijeet Biswas, another idol maker and sculptor, shared that they are receiving demands from various small pujas organized in apartments, which was not the case in earlier days.

Tapan Mukherjee, the president of Sunrise Durga Puja Committee in Sunrise Apartment on Kanpur Road, explained that many people from the Bengali community have recently migrated to the city for jobs and other purposes. This has led to the organization of many small-scale pujas by societies and apartment dwellers.

Employment Opportunities for Artists

As Durga Puja has gained popularity over the years, except for the two years of muted celebration due to Covid, thousands of artists from West Bengal are coming to Lucknow for various kinds of work. This includes idol makers, pandal makers, dhakis (drummers), priests, and more. Many pandals in the city have employed laborers from both Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. These artists come to Lucknow every year because they get paid more here and receive food and lodging.

Monojit Pal, an idol maker from Kolkata, and his co-worker Gopal Pramanik, shared that they come to Lucknow every year because of the better pay and the additional benefits. Currently, they are working at a pandal on Jail Road, along with 45-50 other workers. There are also 20 workers in Rabindra Palli, 50 workers from Midnapore, West Bengal in Jankipuram sector F, and 20 workers in Sahara Estate.

Durga Puja in Lucknow has truly become a grand celebration, bringing together people from different backgrounds and providing employment opportunities for talented artists.

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