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Firms vie for a slice of Bengal industry pie at Puja pandal

Firms vie for a slice of Bengal industry pie at Puja pandal
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First Published: Tue, Sep 27 2011. 07 42 PM IST

Big draw: Durga idol of Naktala Udayan Sangha is among the big budget Pujas in Kolkata.
Big draw: Durga idol of Naktala Udayan Sangha is among the big budget Pujas in Kolkata.
Updated: Tue, Sep 27 2011. 07 42 PM IST
Kolkata: West Bengal may have closed its doors on big-ticket industrial projects with an unfriendly land policy, but there seems to be no dearth of corporate interest in the Durga Puja in the neighbourhood of Partha Chatterjee’s home.
It helps that he is the state’s commerce and industries minister.
Many companies have expressed their desire to buy the idols of goddess Durga and her four children, from Naktala Udayan Sangha, a club backed by Chatterjee, after it has been worshipped between 2 and 6 October.
Big draw: Durga idol of Naktala Udayan Sangha is among the big budget Pujas in Kolkata.
One of India’s leading software services firms looking to set foot in Kolkata and the co-promoter of a large petrochemical plant in eastern India are among those that have pitched for the idol, according to key people in the organizing committee, who did not wish to be named.
Chatterjee, however, said the interest in Naktala Udayan Sangha’s idol is entirely because of its uniqueness—it is made of 500 kg of brass and 100 cu. ft of mahogany—and not because of his position in the state administration.
The idol, which measures 16 ft in height and is 12 ft wide, took almost six months to build, and cost the club Rs 750,000.
“Some 18 companies have already offered to preserve the idol after it is worshipped,” said Bappaditya Dasgupta, secretary of Naktala Udayan Sangha. “Even some museums have approached us.” He refused to name the companies that have offered to buy the idols from the club.
This is the first time in the 25 years that the club has been conducting Durga Puja that there is significant corporate interest, said people from the organizing committee.
This is evident in the large number of hoardings around the puja pandal, or the idol’s makeshift home for five days—almost all key local companies, particularly those that collect deposits from the public, have booked space.
From the swagger of the organizers, it also looks like it wasn’t very difficult for them to raise Rs 30 lakh—the official budget for the puja.
Chatterjee attributes the attention the idol is receiving to its creator Bhabatosh Sutar. “I am only a member of the club and do not have any contribution in making it popular.”
Despite his busy schedule and late night deliberations with his party Trinamool Congress’ leader Mamata Banerjee, Chatterjee drops by at the pandal almost every night to keep a tab on preparations.
Asked about companies offering to buy the idol from the club, Chatterjee said he would rather that it was preserved in a museum. “But then the club has a free hand in deciding who it wants to give it to,” said Chatterjee. “However, considering the cost of building it, the club might also have to sell it in the end.”
This isn’t the first time people have offered to buy the idol Sutar creates for the puja but he, too, is amazed by the soaring interest in his work this time. “Requests have come even from abroad,” he said.
After having put in six months of hard labour, working with molten brass at 800 degree celsius, all he wants is that “whoever takes the idol” does “justice to it.”
The pandal is being built to resemble the workshop of Viswakarma—the Hindu deity of craftsmen worshipped normally in factories—made more real by audio effects delivered from concealed speakers. Then, that is only apt for a pandal being built by a club backed by the state’s commerce and industries minister.
romita.d@livemint.com
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First Published: Tue, Sep 27 2011. 07 42 PM IST