Ambar Bhattacharya, Takmaa News, Kolkata, 22nd Sept 2022 : At its most basic, Durga Puja is West Bengal’s largest festival, centered on the goddess Durga, destroyer of the demon Mahishasura. But in Kolkata and elsewhere, Durga Puja is also the world’s largest publicly funded art show. While the basic idea is to worship Durga and her four children following traditional rituals, Durga Puja has grown more spectacular and extravagant with every passing year. In well over a century, Bengal’s biggest religious festival has transformed into a secular community event, a mass public ritual, a mega carnival, and an open-air exhibition of art created by some of the state’s best-known artists and art designers.
Over time, both idols and pandals (temporary structures to house the idols) have transformed into breathtaking works of art involving months of planning and execution. The advent of specially ‘themed’ pujas has contributed majorly to this transformation, where themes are chosen for various pujas, and idols and pandals are created to match them. Most of this is still made possible with public donations, hence our description of Durga Puja as the world’s largest publicly funded art exhibition.
CONTEMPORARY DURGA PUJA ART
Durga Puja today is a product of art, craft and design, a space in which ‘modern’ art blends with folk crafts, and prominent artists such as Sanatan Dinda, Susanta Pal, and Bhabatosh Sutar have entered the puja arena.
A feature of contemporary Durga Puja art is a reduction in size of pandals and idols, and a creative use of limited space. Idols are now folk-style creations, and puja designers like Dinda and Sutar have sidestepped tradition by first sculpting an idol before working out a décor and structure, creating a signature style. The trend has also helped unknown artists embrace puja designing as a full-time career. Synthetic materials, massive pandals and flashing lights have been replaced by natural resources such as straw, jute, bamboo, mud, and clay.
Even international names such as Suvaprasanna, Jogen Chowdhury, and Samir Aich have entered the fray at various times, along with professional art directors from cinema, commercial and graphic artists, and even textile designers.
PREVIEW SHOW 2022
Every year, Kolkata is presented with new categories of Durga Puja art and artists, displaying ever newer templates of contemporary art and design, diverse and creative enough to rival any international art biennale, though perhaps not yet positioned as such. Commercial promotion and sponsorship have kept pace with the explosion of art, making far-reaching changes to the very nature of the festival.
While the creativity comes from artists and art designers, the work of setting up and decorating a pandal, or transporting the idols from the place of production to pandals, is still mostly done by a hired workforce. While the creativity comes from artists and art designers, the work of setting up and decorating a pandal, or transporting the idols from the place of production to pandals, is still mostly done by a hired workforce.
The Durga Puja Art Preview Show is a journey through the entire process, from conception to the outcome. Using innovative audio-visual techniques, massArt provides an immersive experience that will leave the audience with unforgettable memories of Bengal’s largest festival and convince them of its rightful claim to being the world’s largest public art exhibition.
massArt is a socio-culturally inclined organization formed with the purpose of encouraging and enhancing Indigenous and Contemporary Art, Culture and Heritage and expanding their reach to global arena. Among various other art forms, one of the focus areas of massArt is to showcase and promote Art Installations like those in Durga Puja Art and other art exhibitions, before the art loving people of the world. For more information, please visit: www.massart.in