Chhau artistes, hit hard by pandemic, in focus at famous south Kolkata Puja

In their performances, Chhau artistes enact episodes from epics such as the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, the Puranas, and local folklore.

To provide more visibility to Chhau artistes from Purulia district during the Durga Puja, the Bhabanipur 75 Palli Puja Committee has decided to organise the folk dance throughout the festivities. With this, the Puja organisers hope to aid the artistes who have been hit hard by the pandemic and associated lockdown restrictions.

In their performances, Chhau artistes enact episodes from epics such as the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, the Puranas, and local folklore. The Purulia style of Chhau dance involves performers in masks and colourful attire.

The artistes who will perform at the famous south Kolkata Puja — which is in its 57th year and has chosen “Manobik [Humane]” as this year’s theme — are government enlisted.

“The Chhau dancers are part of the rich tapestry of Bengal’s cultural milieu. They make us proud in the country and abroad,” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Saturday after inaugurating the puja.

Club secretary Subir Das said, “We are dedicating this Puja to the kids and family members of Chhau artistes in Purulia, donating a major share of the subscription and the state’s dole to them, along with making the premises available for them to perform and sell their goods. Many artistes and craftsmen are facing financial hardships as festivals and fairs have been called off across the country amid the pandemic. We are inspired by our CM Mamta Banerjee and will do our bit to help at least some of them.”

Meanwhile, the organisers of the Kashi Bose Lane Durga Puja in north Kolkata have paid tribute to people from different walks of life who lost their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic. Their theme is “Apurna [Incomplete]”, and keeping with it, the Durga idol has been placed within two half circles. A piece of graffiti art behind the idol highlights the cycle of life on Earth. Props like white clothes of different types have been used. Most of the props used in the pandal are eco-friendly items such as ropes and painted clothes.

“We wanted to explain that Ma Durga is tired of fulfilling our wishes. God has his own calculations. There are imbalances on Earth and imperfections in people, but when in the name of development we try to disturb God’s creation we face the consequences in the form of disasters,” said Aditi Chakraborty who conceptualised the theme.

Puja general secretary Soumen Dutta said, “We have paid tribute to people from different walks of life who lost their lives to Covid. Clothes of different sizes have been hanged with the help of bamboo sticks. These clothes are basically to recall their contribution to society.”

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