Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Adjudged Best Puja: Puja at Sluice Gate

We went to this Puja in Phatisil Ambari on Ashtami at 2am in the morning in an effort to beat the rush. We didn't succeed. But then, if a Puja is adjudged winner in multiple categories, the rush is very much expected and one has to  brace herself with an extra dose of bravery.

The awards won
The peculiarity of this Pandal (made in inspiration of a temple) was the fact that it was made entirely of Plume Grass or what we call in Assamese, kohua-bonn.

Board providing information on Plume Grass

 The decor inside looked that of a magnificent wooden palace, complete with art on the walls and ceilings and a huge chandelier in the middle.

Inside the temple
Against the warm wooden colors stood the idols in regal attire with a backdrop of the Himalayas. It was simple, brilliant.

I should not forget to mention that it had some pretty weird stuff in the playground, like the dancing skeleton, the Frankenstein-lookalike monster coming out of his grave with a shrill laugh and a podium with moving 'statues' of Dr. Bhupen Hazarika (which looked anything but Dr. Hazarika) and his crew singing (re:blaring) his evergreen hits.

What was weirder was the arrangement of sorts in the nearby Pragjyotish College dedicated to '100 years of Titanic' (seriously?!). And if a moving toy-ship hitting an ice-berg with dialogues of the Captain, Jack and Rose in Hindi is not enough, they played Celine Dion's My Heart will go on during intervals! It was jam-packed. Apparently, people still dig Titanic. I fled from the scene. Hence, no photos!

What I did click was a galli-ka-puja (on the way to Phatasil Ambari) wherein the people dressed up like gods and stood on stage for 5mins every 15mins! It was an amateurish attempt but I enjoyed. The Ganesh with his trunk and Mahishashur with his grey painted body was real, but what fascinated me was the lion... that was also a man in costume!... and you know the lion did a good job when your mom is astonished at its mention and gasps, "What! There was a man in there?! I didn't notice!"

Is that owl real?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Durga Puja 2012: Pandal-hopping in Guwahati: in photos

I love Guwahati during Durga Puja, the city has a buzz during this time of the year. Every street is lit up till late in the night, people dress up, balloons and food everywhere and then there is the mad pandal-hopping!

I am in Guwahati for Durga Puja after seven long years and I am soaking this city's spirits, filling up my quota of pandal-hopping. Cumulatively, till now, i have visited around 10 pandals. Here I'm putting up photos from some of the best pandals I have visited so far for all the Guwahatians who could not make it to home for Durga Puja. Enjoy!

Ganeshguri Puja (BK Towers):

The Ganeshguri Puja (more often than not) has been one of the winners for best sculpted deity year after year. Now you know why!

Maa Durga

Ganeshguri puja

Nimki, Khoja, Jalebis..!

Jalebi b(h)ai
Nepali Mandir Puja:

Check the ornaments on the deity, it's made of pure gold! The pandal was decorated by pots of various shape and sizes. Pretty innovative decor.

From the outside

On the platform
The ornaments on Maa Durga, made of real gold
Who thought pots could make such an impressive decor!
Race Camp Puja:

Battling through the traffic at 1am in the morning, we reached Race Camp Puja. It was a huge affair with melas of the sort wherein there were carousel rides, stalls selling knick-knacks from jewelry to toys to porcelain, street food of no bounds and a cultural program. A fun environment, definitely!

The entrance to Race Camp Puja
Cultural show 
The Pandal from outside, made of bamboo husk

The deities

Maa Durga

Chana-chur time!

Of many colors

Ghosh Brother's Puja:

It's a pity I do not know the name of the place where this pandal was, but it was a Ghosh Brother's Puja. We discovered it on our way from the  Race Camp Puja going towards Nayantara Puja and halted without much thought. We weren't disappointed.

This pandal had a very impressive decor. On the way to the deity, the entire pathway had beautiful modern art pieces in bright, warm colors. And contrasting the bright colors of the ambiance were the deities, in pure white. It was a modern pandal, and definitely a shift in the right direction.

Art adorns the walls on this pandal

The pandal walls with lovely art pieces
Leading to the platform

The deities

Maa Durga's idol at the Ghosh Brother's puja

Gita Mandir Puja:

The Gita Mandir Durga Puja temple took inspiration from the Indian Parliament, no less! We went there not only to see the Pandal but also to eat the tasty ghugni that my friend was craving for!

Parliamentary Pandal

The Deities

Maa Durga

Carousel Ride infront of Parliament
Latasil Puja:

For the kid in you to come out in all its glory, I recommend visiting the Latasil Puja. Too many distractions. Really, too many! Infact, so immersed was I with the sights of the stalls and rides, I forgot to click a picture of the pandal!

Here are some I clicked minus the pandal (which was in the shape of a boat)

Latasil Puja

Nayantara Puja:

Saving the best for the last, I present to you the Nayantara Puja. Designed by Mr. Nooruddin Ahmed, a family friend, this puja wins hands down on its creativity, lighting and for its beautifully sculpted idols. I am not being partial to a family friend! And you can see through these photos how magnificent the pandal is. The theme was based on Chinese lines.

Captivating Lights

Chinese lamps guiding the way
Outside, the dragon guards
In the style of Chinese architecture

The absolutely breathtaking idols

So, that was a round-up of the best pujas I have witnessed till now. As and when I see more, I shall share. Happy Durga Puja everyone!

For the Puja adjudged Best Puja, Best Idol along with a host of other awards, continue reading here

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Puppet Show: Bollywood Shtyle!

I'm still reveling in the puppet show I saw yesterday at Ranga-shankara.

For me, Puppet show meant a stage with puppets with a lot of strings and crazy uncontrollable movements and the quacking of puppet mouths when they speak.

So, wrong was I!

This puppet show I went totally changed my views on the subject. It was a show by Katkatha Puppets Arts Trust and was aptly  named "The Bollywood Bandwagon" !

The show set-up itself was different from a regular puppet show. The stage had space for the puppeteers to move, and above the stage was a projection. In the centre-front, there were cameras on tripods and microphones. When the show began, it was projected like a proper Bollywood flick, with the U/A certificate, a photo of Ganesha and the name of the film appearing in English, Hindi and Urdu!

The puppeteers wore the puppets around the neck and enacted the roles. Kudos to their work! Their choreography, acting deserves praise. They moved from scene to scene seamlessly (as if we were really watching a movie on a screen than on stage!) though enacting different set-ups in precise seconds must be such a daunting task!

And kudos to the direction! Anurupa Roy deserves full praise and respect for the use of cameras in ingenious ways! We saw the crew change set-ups (tables) to make it look like camera angles have changed. I specially loved the scene wherein a front angle of a scene was first shown; and afterwards, they used the still camera in such a way that it looked like a high-angle shot.

The Crew of The Bollywood Bandwagon
Of course, any Bollywood flick is incomplete without an item number and this one had two! Oh my my! Maya (the item girl's name) stole the audiences' hearts with her matkas and jhatkas! 

Maya; she wears a pink wig (no less!) while acting
It was a superb show and my belief was not a sole one. The show received a standing ovation. Many from the audience stayed back to interact with the puppeteers.

 If the Katkatha Puppet Arts guys are in town, do not disregard them as just another puppet show for the kids. FYI, these shows are for Adults only. Who would have thought puppets are for everyone?!

On my way out, I took some more photos of Ranga-Shankara. This place has always been so positive. 

Also, the cafe here is an amazing place to be when it rains!

Find more information on Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust at their official website http://www.katkatha.org/kk2/aboutus.html

Ranga-shankara's official website is http://www.rangashankara.org/home/rangatest/

Shows at Ranga-Shankara can be bought at http://www.indianstage.in

There was an error in this gadget