Violence that rocked West Bengal following last year's assembly elections is the theme of a Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata with the Goddess shown as the mother of a dead child.
The pandal will be covered with black cloth, with wails of women who lost their children playing in the background, said BJP leader Biswajit Sarkar, the organiser of the community puja in Narkeldanga.
"While the entire state celebrates the festivities, the families of those killed in the violence will mourn their loved ones on those days," said Sarkar, whose brother Abhijit was killed on May 2 last year, soon after the election results were announced.
"We are trying to depict the reality by portraying the mothers who would never be able to celebrate the again," he told PTI. The ground, where the pandal of Saraswati O Kalimata Mandir Parishad has been put up, is painted red to depict the bloodshed in the violence.
"My brother was among those who started this community puja in 2020. It was due to post-poll violence that he had to lose his life. Celebrations mean nothing to us without Abhijit. We wanted to give out the message to all political parties that bloodshed needs to end in the state," Sarkar said.
On the direction of the Calcutta High Court, the CBI is at present investigating Abhijit's death, and other incidents of violence that rocked the state last year, snatching many lives and leaving several homeless. The pandal was inaugurated by BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar and Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari.
"This pandal reflects the gory truth of the state -- the violence and bloodshed that the TMC unleashed after the assembly polls. It is true that those family members who have lost their near and dear ones to violence, celebrations mean nothing to them," Majumdar alleged.
Hitting out at the BJP, the ruling TMC said that the theme is a reflection of a sick mentality, and a brazen attempt to politicise Durga Puja. "Durga Puja is an auspicious occasion for all of us, and using such gory themes only reflects the mindset of the BJP and its inability to understand the Bengali psyche," TMC chief spokesperson Sukhendu Sekhar Ray said.
Political scientists and sociologists, however, feel that this is a reflection of the "political society" that West Bengal is. "West Bengal is a political society where people eat, drink and breathe politics. So it is expected that the state's biggest festival will also be politicised. It would have been better if this politicisation had not happened," political scientist Biswanath Chakraborty said.
Political themes are not alien to Durga Puja as issues such as the anti-land acquisition movements in Singur and Nandigram, demonetisation, price rise, NRC and CAA were depicted at pandals earlier. Sociologist Prasanta Roy said that the theme reflected a change in society.
"Maybe a few years back, people would not have dared to come up with such a theme fearing whether it would be accepted. It shows that the people are now ready to say something, no matter how gory it has been, to society," he said.
(With PTI inputs)