Even as four days still left for Durga Puja to commence, crowds have started pouring in thousands to have a glimpse of the Puja pandal of Sreebhumi Sporting Club in the northern outskirts of Kolkata which is themed on the St. Peter’s Basilica church in Vatican City.
This particular Puja committee, which enjoys the patronage of the West Bengal fire minister, Sujit Basu, had been in the attention of lakhs of Puja revellers since last year, when the Puja pandal theme was a replica of Burj Khalifa, the famous skyscraper in Dubai. The frenzy over the pandal last year, was the threat Covid-19 pandemic was still looming over in a major way, was such that the Puja organizers and Bidhannagar City Police had to even stop entry to pandal for a long period of time on the night of Mahashtami, the second day of the festival.
Around a lakh of people then assembled at the entry point to the pandal in the last year violating all Covid-19 protocols and bringing the traffic in the entire area to a total standstill.
According to Basu, this year, Sreebhumi Sporting Club is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its puja and hence to make the occasion memorable, the pandal this year has been themed on the St. Peter’s Basilica church in Vatican City.
“Moreover, Kolkata’s Durga Puja has the UNESCO tag this time, So, celebrations have started early and so have we. The preparations for setting up the pandal and its surroundings started almost in June this year. However, this time we have given special attention so that we can avoid overcrowding which happened last year. There will be separate entry and exit points as usual and they will be much wider than the previous years this time,” Basu said. Over 100 artisans were deployed to achieve the task.
In fact, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, during the inauguration of the pandal a couple of days ago, cautioned Basu to be careful of overcrowding and traffic blockage.
She even went to the extent of cautioning him that if she receives complaints about traffic blockage this time, Sreebhumi Sporting Club will be delisted from the post-Puja immersion carnival.
The main pandal, which will be a replica of the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, will be 65 feet tall and 54 feet wide. More Renaissance-period replicas and depth-controlled LED light is expected to add glory to the surroundings.
The Puja will start from October 1 this year and the Vijaya Dashami will be on October 5.