The crux of this year’s Puja Theme was Pidi – the flat wooden seat pad, our ancestors, mostly the woman in Paschimbanga (erstwhile West Bengal) used to use to sit on.
This Pidi actually happened to be ‘an own world’ to those women, who hardly had the luxury, comfort and freedom to express and live unlike today’s divas. Sitting on those Pidis, those women would liberate themselves the way they want, in many ways, in line with their varied emotions and work… complementing their daily existence and life.
From having the first rice (annaprashan) to playing with dolls; celebrating womanhood after having the first periods to getting married; hailing pregnancy to breast feeding; cooking for the entire family to performing Pujas and religious rituals; embellishing and ornamenting herself (shringar) to lamenting on near and dear ones’ death… for anything, everything, this Pidi would personify the woman, who had been someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, someone’s wife, someone’s mother and someone’s grandmother.
In short, the Pidi not only was a hard reality to those women but also a winning streak… letting them turn into ‘Dashabhuja’ – a Maa Durga herself – to fight against all odds and negativity as inflicted upon them rather forcefully by the demons of man (read men) made society and its uncouth prejudices.
To highlight and illustrate this, the Pandal of Avenue South Pallymangal Samity (ASPS) was made with Pidis only.
The structure of the Pandal was built with Steel in keeping with the safety standard, eliminating Bamboos or anything inflammable. On this structure a number of Pidis were placed with different types of Alpana on them, where each Alpana tells a story of the then day to day life of a woman.
Inside the Pandal, the hue was kept as twilight-red in order to express the sun-setting stage of the Pidi in our life at present, as well as to represent the Furnace or Chula, which also suggests an END.
As a whole, the Theme, Pandal, and idols altogether was an effort to pay homage and tributes to ‘womanhood’, particularly remembering those women who are no more seen (on Pidis) just like the Pidi itself.
And this effort of ASPS in 2011 was finally rewarded with the three following awards:
a) Pratya – Bachhorer Sera Abishkar (Pratya – The greatest invention of the year)
b) Rotary International (Dist. 3291) – Special Jury Award
c) Thana Samanya Committee Shreshtho Puja – 3rd Prize