Durgotsav 2022: A celebration of empowering women and artisans

In December 2021, UNESCO included the Durga Puja of Kolkata in its lists of intangible cultural heritage. In her book In the Name of the Goddess: The Durga Pujas of Contemporary Kolkata, Tapati Guha-Thakurta, the historian who awarded Kolkata’s Durga Puja its UNESCO ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ label, traced the evolution of the festival and highlighted the creative, cultural aspects and the social economy that the great celebration generates beyond its religious aspects. After a two-year hiatus, the holiday season is emerging with more joy and celebration. The theme across the country during this monumental year is the empowerment of women and the celebration of artisans, the perfect representation of the festival!

Women priests, ‘Dhakis’ at the first community Durga Puja in the satellite township of Kolkata

The first Durga Puja community in the satellite township on the northeastern outskirts of Kolkata focuses on “mother Bengal” and female empowerment and has many firsts to feature, including all-female teams of priests and of “dhakis”.

“The four puja priests are women, as are the 12 ‘dhakis’ (drums) and a dozen ‘Dhunuchi Naach’ performers,” said Samaresh Das, secretary of the Durga Puja committee. The puja is themed ‘Banga Janani’ (Mother Bengal) and will showcase the state’s traditional art and culture.

Children install Durga Pandal using recycled waste to convey the theme of female empowerment

Coming from less privileged backgrounds, the children of the Bal Shashwat Foundation located in Vikas Nagar, Lucknow, set up their pandal with rubbish including scraps of newspapers, unused bottles, tin, sarees, glass bottles and other unused materials. They have chosen to present two themes through their pandal – “recycle and reuse” and “women’s empowerment”. Both being socially relevant messages.

Kolkata women go viral by breaking age-old tradition

The country is set to welcome Goddess Durga and amid the festivities, a clip featuring a group of women bringing the idol Durga to a pandal, a ceremony traditionally performed by men, has gone viral. The images show the women all dressed in red and yellow saris and holding mashals (torches) in their hands. Behind them, an idol of Goddess Durga can be seen. The video was highly praised by users, with one commenting, “Brilliant. True Maa Durgas usher in Goddess Durga. Need to share.

Kumartuli Sarbojanin Durgotsav Committee will pay tribute to little-known craftsmen

The Kumartuli Sarbojanin Durgotsav Committee will honor the idol makers in this Puja. The names of hundreds of these Kumartuli craftsmen will be prominently displayed in the pandal. The pandal will have a collage of artisans’ names written in Bengali on its walls. Various font styles are used to attract attention, and cutouts of the letters of the alphabet will be used as props. “Durga Puja would be incomplete without idol makers and this year we have decided to salute these unsung heroes,” said Debashish Bhattacharya, Executive Committee Member of the Kumartuli Sarbojanin Durgotsav Committee.

Ghaziabad will witness its first Durga Puja led by an all-female committee

The celebration of Durga Puja 2022, organized by Shalimar Garden Mahila Sewa Samiti, is inspired this year by the slogan “Ananya Nari”. From ‘puja’ to ‘prasad’ distribution, from cultural programs to idol immersion, every element of the event will be handled by the women’s committee team. A team of four female priests were called from Kolkata to perform all the puja rituals with two female drummers. The initiative is considered a first of its kind in all of northern India. The event, “Ananya Nari”, organized by Shalimar Garden Mahila Sewa Samiti will be a complete “nari shakti initiative”. The event will include various cultural events, as well as the distribution of bhandara and prasad, by female executive members of the Samiti. There are over 40 women in Samiti, and although the majority are from Shalimar Garden, the rest reside in Delhi and Noida.

All-female ‘Shakti’ commandos to provide security for women during Durga Puja in Ranchi

Ranchi Police has delegated “Shakti” commandos consisting of 36 female police officers on scooters to increase security and prevent incidents during Durga Puja. Ranchi SSP Kishore Kaushal said, “This is a team dedicated to improving safety around educational institutions. The commandos’ cell phone numbers would be disseminated to schools and colleges in their respective jurisdiction.

Mara R. Wilmoth