KOLKATA, INDIA, October 21, 2012 (Indian Express): Making a departure, prominent Durga Puja committees this year have modeled their pandals on the famous structures found across the country, compared to past years when aesthetically-designed mandaps were the rule. Singhi Park Sarbojanin Durga Puja, one of the biggest crowd-pullers, this time designed its pandal after the famous Meenakshi Amman Temple of Madurai. "In the rat race of theme pujas, we made a difference by holding the mirror to the heritage structures of the country. We are sticking to the Shabeki (traditional) style of Devi Aradhana (paying our obeisance)," joint secretary of Singhi Park Bhaskar Nandi said.
The puja committee is also sticking to the Deity-making tradition of a 23-foot Ekchalapattern of Durga image crafted by famous Kumartuli artisan Mohan Bansi Rudra Pal. Kumartuli Park in north Kolkata's dingy lanes off Chitpur recreated a marble Durga temple of Gujarat blending Gujarati and Bengali architectural styles.
Another big puja in the south, Ballygunge Cultural Association, has brought alive the rural landscape of Rajasthan with typical props like bandhini sarees, paintings, wooden horses and peacocks.
Bidding to outdo rival neighbour Singhi Park, senior West Bengal minister Subrata Mukherjee's puja, Ekdalia Evergreen, another must-see for pandal-hoppers, has recreated the Sripuram Lakshinarayani temple. "The Vellore edifice, which is mostly made of gold, has been replicated in full, and from a distance you can't make out the real from the replica," a puja committee spokesman said.