The four days of Durga Puja present a unique carnival of happiness in Kolkata, the City of Joy. People from this vibrant city, as also from Greater Kolkata and the neighbouring districts gather here to witness an exhibition of the biggest installations of art in the country — maybe even the world. As pandal-hoppers rush here with enthusiasm to cover as many pandals as possible, Kolkata Police personnel take extra care to assist pandal-hoppers and ensure smooth traffic flow and safety and security of the people.
In fact, over the years, they don’t get time to enjoy or visit pandals with their families. But there is a big surprise in store for them! The Body Guard Lines Durgotsav Committee organizes a special celebration for the families of police personnel.
This year, the Body Guard Lines Durgotsav Committee is celebrating its 69th year. More than 350 families of police personnel who live within the precincts of the Body Guard Lines (BGL) Housing premises are actively involved in this grand celebration. Not only the families of officers of the force, but even the families of constables are taking part in it, besides those who are a part of Howrah Police. Incidentally, the Indian Army and the Law Institute, too, are integral parts of this unique celebration. Most importantly, the entire Durga Puja celebration is curated by women.
‘CM, the guiding force of this Durga Puja’
Tapan Maiti, Chairman of the Kolkata Police Cooperative Bank, heads the BGL Puja Committee. He said, “This year, our pandal has been designed to look like the Dakshineswar Kali Temple. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurated our Durga Puja on Chaturthi, where Police Commissioner Anuj Sharma and Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim graced the occasion. This year, Lakshman Sardar of Kulpibari has been instrumental for building the pandal. Twenty-two-year-old hearing and speech-impaired Subhajit Pal has been the supreme clay-modeller of our idol, which has won immense appreciation from all the visitors.”
The Durga Puja celebration at the BGL Puja Committee stands out from other existing barowari (community) pujas. This year, the schedule has been interestingly curated by the authorities — Putul Nach, Malda’s Gambhira, Purulia’s Chhau Nach and Murshidabad’s Raibeshe — making it a perfect line-up with a cultural milieu.
“Every year, we organize such programmes as Dhunuchi Nach, sit-and-draw competition and Antakshari and musical chair for the families of police personnel. At the same time, meritorious students are felicitated. A post-Puja celebration is generally held in the last week of November, where a three-day cultural programme ushers in winter in the true festive spirit. We’ve witnessed stalwarts from the glamour fraternity performing here. No doubt, all this has been possible due to inspiration from CM Mamata Banerjee. She’s been the guiding force for all of us,” adds Maiti.
There’s no denying the fact that officers of Kolkata Police can hardly spend time with their families during Durga Puja. The BGL Durga Puja gives that much-needed space and spirit to the families of Kolkata Police personnel. The sacrifice of the Kolkata Police fraternity for holding safe and smooth Durga Puja celebrations across the city can never be overestimated. The BGL Durga Puja celebration is a perfect tribute to the ‘protectors’ of Kolkata. The grand finale of the celebration is, perhaps, the overwhelming response of all the enthusiastic members sitting together to share the specially prepared khichuri bhog and sweets and other delicious food that is normally served!