Pujo contribution or Chaanda (as we fondly call this concept) is always an issue with the average Bengali. Be it in India or in USA, Bengalis have the feeling that this is an unjust extortion in the name of a festival that we all like to attend. It should be free for all of us. Where the organizers get their funds is not for us to bother about. Since, most of the Pujo organizers make it a point to ensure that each and every attendee pays their contribution, we’d like to get away with the minimum amount that helps us to claim a stake in the festival. But the Pujo organizers these days are smart, they make the contribution amount quite obvious by displaying it in bold font. To justify the specified amount, the organizers will cite different components of the cost incurred to hold a festival of this magnitude, like goat meat, Mumbai and Kolkata performers – etc etc. This cartoon raises a legitimate question – why not an a-la carte system for Pujor Chanda? Sounds fair to me!
The most awaited event for any Bengali, the Durga Puja festival, is less than two months away. Kallol of NJ will be celebrating this festival during the weekend of October 3 to 5, 2008, while Garden State Cultural Association will have a concurrent celebration on Oct 4th and 5th. Having a concurrent celebration has its pros and cons. On the positive side, it helps to divide the audience which otherwise becomes impossible to manage at a single venue. The negative aspect is that many of us, who would have loved to attend both (and attend them completely), are denied of the opportunity.
However, even this joint celebration (I mean the dates only) is not helping the organizers. Depending on what performers are being invited from Kolkata or Mumbai by these organizers, crowd management becomes a major issue with frequent interruptions and threats from the Fire dept. Inviting these famous artists to perform during the Puja is a double edged sword. You need to get the popular star performers to pull in the crowd because it is them who pays for the enormous expense. On the other hand, too many people cannot be accommodated in the spaces the organizers typically use. Continue reading