The City of Kolkata bustles during this time of the year with great enthusiasm to celebrate Durga Puja. Navratri celebration is incomplete without the unique and huge Durga Pandals throughout the city which also attracts visitors from outside the state. Each of these Durga pandals have unique themes.
By embracing a Menstrual Hygiene as a theme, Kolkata’s Durga Puja pandal “Pathurighata Pancher Palli”, on it’s 84th anniversary, challenges the cultural norms and taboos surrounding menstruation. Ellora Saha, the Working President of the “Pathuriaghata Pancher Palli Sarbojanin Durgotsab” committee, is the mastermind behind this intriguing effort.
The Idea behind the Pandal-
The topic for this year’s puja pandal is “Ritumati” (Menstrual Hygiene), which aims to eliminate the stigma attached to menstruation. Menstruation is a normal biological occurrence, so there is no need to hide it, Ellora Saha said. According to Saha, it is high time that topics like menstruation that are kept concealed are brought to the forefront, this will act as the first step for breaking taboos.
Menstruation is usually linked to a variety of limitations, including a ban on women leaving the house, not being allowed to share beds with their husbands, or going into the kitchen. These beliefs are made worse by a lack of information regarding personal cleanliness and health throughout the menstrual cycle. Ellora Saha urges that both boys and girls should be imparted scientific education about menstruation openly so that they see it as a normal biological occurrence that isn’t shrouded in mystery or glorification.
The creation of Durga Pandal-
An estimated Rs 18 lakh was spent over the course of three months to build the structure, which is based on installation art and has paintings, models, and graphics. The project’s primary artist, Manash Roy, said that various forms of art have been used to showcase the theme of menstrual hygiene and cycles. The statues have been created by Kumartuli’s Sanatan Paul, which emphasise the concept of shattering menstruation taboos, represent the core theme.
Manas Roy also highlights a very important issue, that is the issue of death of many young girls, especially more in the villages and smaller districts, due to unhygienic practices that they follow when they are menstruating. He said that girls often don’t feel comfortable discussing menstruation with their families and end up using unhygienic towels or clothes instead of sanitary pads. This leads to ovarian infections and many health problems.
With its emphasis on menstrual hygiene, the Durga Puja pandal at “Pathuriaghata Pancher Palli” represents a progressive step towards increasing awareness and de-stigmatizing conversations about menstruation. It exposes ingrained prejudices and moves us closer to a society that is inclusive and well-informed.
Other Durga Puja Pandals in the City of Joy–
Sarbojanin Durgatsav Samity, which is organizing the pandal on Red Road has selected its theme as ‘Komalgandhar’. It is the first all-woman Durga Puja committee and the puja will be done by female priests. Similarly, this year the Tala Baroari Durgotsab pandal has chosen Abindranath Tagore as their theme. Many other pandals are showcasing varied themes such as Ram mandir, Disneyland and many more.