theme pandal at siddheswari garden aabashikbrinda.
'Accountability' is a word that reigns our thoughts when we are employed in an organisation. But this very word had the same impact on my psychological being since mid-July 2012, when I was chosen by the residents of SD Tower as a member of the Puja Committee, for a community service named Durgotsav! I felt accountable to the residents who selected me in the General Body meeting 2012 and hence making an attempt to connect with all of you through this platform.
with puja and apex committee members
Initially I was extremely pleased with my responsibilities that were confined to the ideation and planning of the pandal and idol concept, cultural activities, designing of some of the creatives and publicity & promotion. Being an artist and graphic designer by hobby and profession respectively, the pleasure of implementing these tasks was immense, and it had a very positive impression on my mind till I started facing resistance. Thankfully, the residents always came to my rescue on time! Even though I fought to defend my ideas, I had to run away twice to avoid getting embroiled in silly controversial issues. Some of the ladies with strong spine and who knew that my aim was also to highlight the ladies through cultural activities also came forward and supported me in my work!
One thing was clearly evident to me that after becoming a part of the Puja Committee, many of us tend to forget that we are accountable to the majority of the 1200 residents who are paying puja subscription. Rather a sense of vanity replaces the thought that we are doing some community service through our monetary and non-monetary contributions. We at times tend to give an excuse “residents won’t be able to appreciate it” keeping actually our own taste and preferences in mind, and get external artistes even if their quality do not justify the charges.
Another thing which I keenly realised while working for the puja is that it is not the responsibility of SD Tower puja committee to bear the weight of every family who is not paying puja subscription. There are other expenses to be taken care of, so if we think that we are unable to give the yearly puja subscription of Rs 1200 then we can give only Rs 250 that goes to other puja pandals outside the housing complex. Could we have avoided giving subscription if we were staying in the same locality but outside the housing complex? We would have had to give that bare minimum of Rs 250!
When it comes to community lunch, the building committee members, instead of getting biased for their own friends in the building, must act practically by keeping the entire community in mind. We also need to understand that against the subscription (it takes care of the community lunch as well), a building secretary cannot act selfishly by just giving away the community lunch coupons too leniently. It has been observed over the years that some of the secretaries give away excess food coupons to their friends and neighbours in the same building, than the actual number of heads per family. As result, the secretary is in the good books of their friends but INDIRECTLY is responsible for a shortage of food items when the community lunch is served.
sneha pareek and dhruti walk the ramp
A request to all the residents: do involve more teenagers and ladies from various communities, for Durga Puja! I strongly believe that intelligent teenagers and proactive young people below 45 years of age, and maybe some people above 45 years who constantly upgrade themselves – would add more value when it comes to such community services! This thought helped me to have faith in the smart and mature 14 years old Sneha Pareek when I used to observe her towards the end of 2011, though we never had any interaction till we started working together! Some of the faces that come to my mind are - the talented Trina Maitra, the cool identical twins Ritika and Kritika Dutta (the duo give support to their mother, Rajashree Dutta for rituals), the vivacious Ayelita Ghosh, the young violinist Utsav Biswas and chess player Anusil Das; and a few more (names of whom are unknown to me), should be given responsibilities during such events. These smart kids can do wonders because they are more creative and flexible than most of the people who are in the age groups of 40s and 50s! A small example: my intelligent little co-host, Sneha Pareek, once came up with some suggestions for the promotion of the Puja, which as a Puja Committee member, I could think, maybe only because of my MBA specialization in Marketing Communications!
Whatever I wanted to see during the tenth Durgotsav, got materialized inspite of the challenges and limitations that cropped up before me – be it the theme pandal, probhaatanusthaan, association with an NGO, the effective utilisation of Sneha Pareek’s strengths in cultural activities, highlighting our ladies who play key roles but remain behind the scene, the involvement of residents (adults and kids) from various communities in great numbers; our position in the 2nd round for both Sambad Pratidin and The Times of India Bari Puja contests, a minimum of ‘596 Likes’ in the powerful social media, the positive feedback from the majority (residents) and outsiders (via word of mouth); and overall there was warmth that I have always found missing in the earlier years!
And this would not have had happened without the enormous support from most of the residents; Apex Committee members - Subrata Das and Vikash Pareek; and last but certainly not the least, the President - Puja Committee, Susanta Sarkar! Another person whose artisitic sensibilities one could easily rely upon was our bindas “live Ashur” Manas Biswas, who effectively monitored the decorator's and the artists’ jobs, whenever he got free from his professional responsibilities; and also gave support to the cultural sub-committee as when required! Biswanath Sharma, our efficient treasurer, always used to be near the stage, whenever the puja committee had to pay the artistes and others! The Vice President - Puja Committee and a senior scientist by profession, Dr. Sourav Basu, had always been a patient listener and a peacemaker! As a result, he instantly produced a fire-extinguisher, first aid box and some biodegradable black disposable bags when I placed a request - just before Sambad Pratidin and The Times of India teams came to visit our pandal! He also brought in an NGO run by Balaram Karan, a well social worker based out of Midnapur district of West Bengal, India.
The acknowledgement from the residents like Rina and Alok Mitra, Sudeshna Mukherjee, Trina Maitra, Rajesh Keswani and others - was my greatest reward for the community service, in which I was involved for the past three months! After the entire phase of mental struggle that I went through while working, the appreciation from most of the residents gave me a pleasant surprise and a deep sense of victory against all odds! It was the same kind of surprise and satisfaction which I experienced way back in September 1999, when I was receiving a state-level 'Paschim Banger Kirtimaan Manush' award in the Fine Arts category from Rotary International at Oberoi Calcutta. And probably that was why I couldn’t express my emotions well, when Rina-di was handing over the token of appreciation. Well, what more could one ask for? All the best to the residents for another great puja in 2013! J