One of the most exciting parts about Durga Pujo are the pandals. Every year, societies and committees think of new, creative and beautiful ways to top their pandal from the last year. As the years keep progressing, the pandals keep getting bigger and better.
Here are some of the most innovative and inspiring pandals we saw in 2019.
1. Pandal dedicated to ISRO, in Varansi.
A pandal in Varanasi has been modeled around the theme of Chandrayaan-2. The pandal is around 100-feet high, and took 2 months to be completed. The pandal also has an idol of ISRO Chief K Sivan, along with idols of deities.
2. Gulliver's Travels themed pandal, in FD Block, Kolkata.
FD Block Durga Puja Committee in the Salt lake area in Kolkata has a pandal on the theme 'Gulliver's Travels' by Jonathan Swift and the stars of the show are Gulliver and the other Lilliputians. The committee has replicated scenes from the novel, creating the whole experience specially for children.
3. Pandora from Avatar, in Guwahati.
Bishnupur Bimala Nagar Sarbajanin Durga Puja Committee in Guwahati has designed their pandal after Pandora, from the movie Avatar, down to the floating hills. The characters Jake Sully and Neytiri from the movie have also been added to complete the scene. The pandal took 40 workers 1.5 months to complete, and a total of Rs 12 lakh was spent to finish the set-up.
4. Pandal made from recycled materials, in East Delhi.
This pandal in East Delhi was made from completely recycled materials like aluminium, steel, glass and wood. After the puja, these designs will find a new home in a museum or a personal collection so they can continue to be on display.
5. Durga idol made of solid gold, in Kolkata.
The mother of idols this year is at the Santosh Mitra Square in Kolkata. The Durga idol at this pandal has been made from 50-60 kg of gold, costing a hefty sum. It was crafted by 250 artists over a span of 3 months.
6. Pandal on the theme of the Balakot Airstrike, in Kolkata.
Another innovative pandal came from the Young Boys Club Sarbojanin Durga Puja committee in Kolkata. For this year it was the Balakot airstrike. The Indian Air Force's airstrike in Balakot was recreated with clay models and digital projection. The committee has also installed a life-style model of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.
7. On the theme of gender-diversity, in Kolkata.
The Dum Dum Tarun Dal has chosen to celebrate gender diversity through their pandal. Their Durga idol is a mixture of Krishna and Durga, on a rainbow-coloured background. The pandal also had huge masks, symbolising that the main theme of the pandal is the marginalisation of transgenders in society.
8. Space-themed pandal, Kolkata.
The Kumartuli Park Sarbojanin Durgostab Committe in Kolkata announced that they are planning a space-themed mandap. Apparently it will have "a make-shift rocket launcher at the front, the inside of the mandap is essentially a different planet. The people can actually stand at the cockpit of the spaceship and look down upon the Puja being held at the Earth—like a shift in perspective." It will open on 8th October.
Hopefully, next year we'll see even more creative themes!