COVID, Economic Slowdown Dim Lights On Durga Puja In Bengal

The COVID-19 pandemic and financial slowdown have dimmed the lights on West Bengal”s greatest pageant, Durga Puja, for the second consecutive yr as organisers slashed their budgets and scaled down celebrations because of shrunken sponsorship.

Not simply small-budget pujas, even big-ticket Durga Puja committees in Kolkata have curtailed their spending by practically 30-40 per cent, primarily compromising on marquee ornament, organisers stated.

Some main Durga Puja organisers, nevertheless, felt that though the current scenario is much from regular, it’s higher than final yr as many sponsors are prepared to spend, albeit lesser than earlier years.

College Square Durga Puja Committee spokesperson Bikash Majumder advised PTI on Thursday that its funds has been slashed by no less than 40 per cent as in comparison with the 2019 spending of Rs 50 lakh as there are fewer company sponsors and likewise due to a COVID-induced general downturn out there.

“The illumination on the water body next to our marquee will have lesser glitz and frills while the pandal will be open on all sides, enabling the revellers to see the idols from a distance,” he stated, including that the Durga idol peak has been shortened to round 12-14 toes.

“But we can”t stop the festivities altogether as the livelihood of many people depends on our puja,” he stated.

Echoing related sentiments, a member of Suruchi Sangha, one other well-liked puja that has attracted lakhs of tourists for years, additionally determined to chop down its funds by round 30-40 per cent.

“We have curtailed our budget by around 30-40 per cent due to lack of sponsors. We have also decided to spend around 50 per cent of the funds collected by our puja committee towards providing financial assistance to around 10,000 children and their families in our area. The remaining amount will be spent on idol and marquee,” puja committee spokesperson Swarup Biswas stated.

He stated the celebrations will probably be minimalistic because of the paucity of funds.

Medium and massive pujas within the state spend between Rs 12 lakh and Rs 30 crore on theme-based marquees full of security preparations and primary requirements.

Mohammad Ali Park Durga Puja committee basic secretary Surendra Kumar Sharma stated that their funds has been slashed to round Rs 12-13 lakh from Rs 60 lakh within the pre-COVID instances.

Organisers have additionally lower down on promotional actions because of shrunken budgets.

The Calcutta High Court has ordered that every one Durga Puja pandals within the state be made no-entry zones for folks, like final yr, to stop the unfold of COVID-19.

Forum for Durgotsab president Kajal Sarkar stated that sponsors who’ve expressed willingness to speculate have curtailed the quantities.

“Donations, subscriptions and retail advertisements cover around 30 per cent of the expenses; while the rest is usually taken care of by corporate funding, which was negligible last year. Although the situation has improved this year, the sponsors have cut down the amount,” he stated.

However, company homes stated they’re excited to take part in Durga Puja this yr because the COVID affect has decreased, and it has been lengthy for the reason that companies straight linked with shoppers by way of bodily promoting.

“Enquiries were higher this year but advertisers finally did not proceed very aggressively due to the uncertainty over footfall at pandals. The advertising inventory, which comprises physical advertisements and sponsorships to puja committees, of all major firms in pre-COVID times was a total of Rs 200 crore.

“However, this yr it has dipped to 50 per cent (Rs 100 crore), and final yr, it was 25-30 per cent,” Amit Mitra, a senior official of a multinational advertising firm, told PTI.

Emami Agrotech said that overall spending could have been higher if the corporate firms and media planners had clarity over the scale of the celebrations.

“We have been apprehensive concerning the scenario, so needed to delay our planning. Our spending might have been extra if we had readability on the scenario. We are focussing extra on digital content material, for which we’ve allotted round 60-70 per cent of our funds,” Emami Agrotech president (advertising) Debabsish Bhattacharya stated. 


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