Kolkata: On home return, Md Ali Park Puja spreads vaccine message

The Puja was shifted to the adjacent Central Avenue Fire Station in 2019 after the wall of an underground reservoir collapsed.

Back to its original venue after two years, the famous Mohammad Ali Park Durga Puja in central Kolkata has chosen as its theme the importance of vaccines to the efforts to end the Covid-19 pandemic.

“If 2020 was about the Covid-19 infection, 2021 is all about vaccination, the only weapon against the disease. So, this year, we are attempting to propagate the importance of vaccination from our Puja premises. The theme will revolve around the prevention of a pandemic and will specifically explore the significance of vaccination. Visitors will not be allowed inside the park but will have to get a glimpse of the Puja from the road. The goddess can be seen very well from a distance of 15 feet,” said the Puja committee’s general secretary Surendra Kumar Sharma.

He added, “Nothing is more important than public health and with coronavirus still on, we need to be alert. Mohammad Ali Park can wait for grander celebrations in the coming years.”

The Puja was shifted to the adjacent Central Avenue Fire Station in 2019 after the wall of an underground reservoir collapsed. The Puja committee has placed an “ekchala” or single-arch idol this year because of budget constraints. The idol has been made by Pankaj Ghosh from Hooghly.

Meanwhile, the Young Boys Club Puja, which is in its 52nd year, has adopted the theme “Durga — The Destroyer of Corona”, and is honouring health workers and other first responders by placing various installations of doctors, police officials, public transport drivers and the like. The theme was conceptualised by artist Dev Shankar Mahesh from Medinipur.

The marquee is located near central Kolkata’s Tarachand Dutta Street that connects Central Avenue to Rabindra Sarani. It is drawing a sizeable crowd.

“During the pandemic, everyone is hoping and waiting for the Goddess Durga to eradicate the corona demon. We thought Durga ji could be our saviour and we are praying that she destroys the coronavirus forever. The virus is still there. Therefore, this year we are dedicating the Puja to doctors, health workers, and other Covid warriors,” said Rakesh Singh, the chief organiser.

The club’s youth president Vikrant Singh said, “Corona is a demon that everybody is fighting. Thus, we came up with this idea to pray to the Goddess for protecting all of us from the demon of corona. This year, the much-loved deity will be seen in a new avatar — that of the vanquisher of coronavirus as a symbol of victory of good over evil.”

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