Finally 2005 Pujo is here. In this Garden State of ours, Kallol has started their celebration yesterday (Friday) evening and GSCA will start theirs from today. Are you all ready to hit the doors of Ukrainian Community Center or Plainfield High School? As you attempt to enter the doors, you’ll encounter few somber looking gentlemen sitting behind a linen covered desk with few preprinted stationary and scattered ball point pens. Yes, you now need to pull out your check book and be ready to shell out few dollars from your savings. The question is how much? The gentleman behind the desk will point you to a preprinted piece of paper with a heading which reads something like, â€œSuggested Donation”. For few moments you will struggle with the word, “suggested”. It may occur to you that the shocking amounts below those lines are mere suggestions only. No one is forcing you to pay that amount. However, after some deep contemplation and few tacit exchanges, finally you will succumb to both internal and external pressures and write that check for the full amount that was asked for. For the next few minutes, this episode will keep on pinching you. Soon enough youâ€™ll forget the unpleasant feeling and get involved in the festivities, until next year when this issue will again surface at the parties and get-togethers. The debate undoubtedly will be that why these Pujo organizers can charge such astronomical amounts? After all what do they offer?
Letâ€™s think about this issue for a moment. Is it justified for the organizers to demand the contribution they are asking for?
For the past few years, these two major Pujos of NJ are celebrating their festivals on the same weekend, breaking a long tradition of having them on separate weekends, primarily to manage the logistics. First of all, reservation of these venues on specific targeted weekends is a difficult task. Secondly, this simultaneous celebration, divides the crowd which has grown over the years to such an extent that the fire marshals of the respective towns would be forced to shut down the event if the crowd skews to any particular direction. However, this division of crowd has caused some financial strains on the organizers. The cost of organizing these festivals is also shooting through the roof. The venues are demanding higher rent every year. To accommodate the increase in crowd, we need to set up tents outdoors. Only few years ago, we remained quite satisfied with the entertainment programs presented by our local artists and performers. Now we demand the top performers from Kolkata, maybe even Mumbai. This translates to increased expense. Then comes the question of food. Goat curry seems to be consistent debate. Just check out the price of a pound of goat meat in your local halal meat store. Now you do the math. Think about it, just to attend a show of these performers that we get to watch during the Pujo, will cost much more than what we pay as chandaa. Then factor in the food and fun, I think youâ€™ll find that you are coming out much ahead.
Please join in the debate. Send me your comments and your thoughts on this issue.
Wish you a great Pujo.