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.
Hence the Durga Puja organizers have adopted new policies to control the crowd as well as bring in some predictability to the number of potential attendees. Kallol of NJ, from this year (2008) will be accepting early registrations for the Durga Puja festivals. Once they reach their target number, no further registrants will be allowed and hence no drop-ins. This proposal was formally announced during the Kallol picnic, however further details will be mailed out to the members in late August. This year Kallol is inviting the famous singer from Mumbai, Babul Supriyo, to perform on Sunday (Oct 5th) and they expect a huge turn out. There will be few more guest artists (to be announced soon) as well as local performers. So, if you do not want to miss Babul Supriyo, you better register (with early payment of your contribution) soon. I don’t know if Kallol is offering a staggered contribution rate to encourage early registration, but I am told that the process is going to be enforced quite strictly and professionally.
This is all very nice and fair. But, to me, this excessive formality takes out some of the fun of attending the Durga Puja festival. It almost sounds like we are attending a conference (like NABC?) or some formal event where we need to follow strict rules of attendance. Dangling those ugly badges on your beautiful and expensive attire is itself an insult to many of the fashion conscious attendees. And now you may have to wear wrist bands or indelible ink stamps to make sure you can get past the gate keepers. You need to commit months ahead which Puja you’d like to attend instead of making a spontaneous decision.
But I guess we need to sacrifice some of our freedom to help better manage the festivities. Aren’t we getting used to this already?
This is not fair for everyone. Why couldn’t kallol and GSCA organize pujo in different weekends.
They should think about other who would like to have a extended pujo atomosphere.
One weekend is a very short time to enjoy.
This is ludicrous… even to see Durga Maa once a year, organizations such as these have made it impossible for people to visit.
What is exactly the underlying purpose of all you people???
why is puja organized on 3-4th when the actual puja date starts from 6th (today) to 9th ?
I understand the adoption of the policy to cut the crowds in which I agree because I hate crowds thus I had bad experiences with it that it was not funny at all. However, Kallol is making it difficult to enjoy the presence of Durga Maa in many ways: there are folks out there that can only pay in cash in which they have the right to it; each and everyone of us have our own reasons to pay in cash; in other words, if anybody does not have a checking account, he or she has to deprive itself from seeing Durga Maa, since drop-ins are no longer accepted. Very sad! We must find a solution because if it continues like this, it will lose a lot of patrons and we do not this to happen to Kallol because it an excellent organization. Speaking about having two organizations celebrating Durga Puja on the same days, there used to a time when we could enjoy puja-hopping. Hello?! What is wrong with that? At least is always better than discotheque-hopping! Durga Puja comes once a year and I think there is nothing wrong with puja-hopping, therefore, Durga Puja means a lot to all of us. And it no use to frequent other locations because it would be crowded no matter what. I think New Jersey Puja Association should organize its own Durga Puja to balance out the crowd: they work in an outstanding manner and I feel that NJPA should become a bigger and more popular organization. Durga Puja is an enormous event and every organization and temple should celebrate it, at least we can have a choice on where to go and we can make plans from two weeks to a month ahead of time, and we can still have the freedom to have a wonderful time. Speaking of the badges, ink stamps, and wristbands, Kallol is acting like it is a discotheque. Oh please! I truly understand the security measures that need to be taken, but this is extreme. We spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in fashions, shoes, and accessories to look our best for two or three days, not to mention the food and the offerings we make to Durga Maa, plus the cost of the entrance; it’s like we spend a lot of money just to get bossed around if we want to have a wonderful time. It makes me angry to think like that! A good way to apply security measures without ruining the fun and our fashion statement is to go for the “invisible” ink stamps and hire a security guard with a black light to control the entry, it barely shows and it does not affect our fashion statement at all. I would like to say that I am glad to hear about the crowd control policy, it is about time.
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