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Topsia Puja embodies religious harmony

The pandal is a mix of temple, mosque, church, gurudwara and Buddha stupa.

Ashok Chatterjee | Kolkata |

The rally by chief minister Mamata Banerjee thanking UNESCO for putting the Durga Puja on the Intangible Cultural Heritage list also showcased the cultural heritage of Bengal, including religious harmony.

Taking part in the rally was 69 Palli, Topsia gate Sarbojanin Durgotsav Committee, which prides in its religious co-existence.

Priyanka Dalai of 69 Palli, Topsia gate Sarbojanin Durgotsav Committee, which is celebrating its 65th year of Puja, said, “Our theme is religious harmony. Minister Javed Ahmed Khan is our president and his son Faiz Ahmed Khan is the vice-president and our team consists of both men and women. Saira Banu, housewife, is also part of the committee. Every year our Puja is in the traditional mould but this year we decided to go with a theme and the subject came naturally to us, since this has been a part and parcel of our celebration over the years.”

The Puja never faced any problem on religious lines and everyone participates with equal enthusiasm, irrespective of their religion. “We divide work equally among ourselves. They take care to respect Puja safeguarding their religious sentiments,” said Priyanka.

Art installer Somnath Mukherjee, who is working on the theme at 69 Palli, said, “The theme is prarthona (prayer). People from every religion pray for welfare, but the Supreme power is one. We are trying to give the message that we envisage that the world one day will have one religion – humanity and one race – humans. That day all the tussle, riots will cease. Even Lalon Fakir, the famous baul singer and poet propagated the same message. Unfortunately, the society has been divided on religious and racial lines.

The theme is also reflected through the pandal architecture. “Ma Durga is holding the religious weapons in her 10 hands. The pandal is a mix of temple, mosque, church, gurudwara and Buddha stupa. We have tried to show the architectural similarity between the structures. There is a common wall,” said the artist.