Durga Puja is almost here, and the city is all lit up with colorful lights and fresh flowers. Among all the customs and traditions, there’s one that really caught everyone’s attention for its artistic beauty and devotion. This year, the iconic Howrah Bridge in Kolkata has been given a vibrant makeover, with a team of artists painting it with traditional Bengal ‘alpana’ designs. To make it more eye-catching, the bridge has been adorned with colourful and interactive LED lighting, which lights up after sunset.
Renowned artist Sanjay Paul, along with approximately 40 students from various art colleges, employed traditional folk motifs commonly seen in ‘alpana’ art. They used these motifs to decorate a portion of the 2,313-foot-long Howrah Bridge, connecting the neighbouring cities of Kolkata and Howrah. Croma, a Tata Enterprise, recently unveiled the ‘alpana’ painting on the bridge, officially known as Rabindra Setu, in association with Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port Trust.
“What better a structure than the Howrah Bridge to display our rich cultural heritage, and that too, just ahead of Bengal’s biggest festival – the Durga Puja. My team and I completed the illustration in five days, working tirelessly from 12 am to 5 am,” Paul told PTI.
The motifs have been created along the length of the bridge on both sides adjacent to the footpath, he said. Two large circular designs measuring 36 feet each have also been painted at the entry and exit points of the bridge, Paul said.
Anwesak Dawn, who was entrusted with carrying out the fieldwork, said select meritorious students from the Government Art College and the Garia Art College were brought on board for the project. “The ‘alpana’ is beautifully crafted on motifs based on electronic gadgets, portraying the importance of electronics play in people’s lives. This artwork marks the onset of the auspicious Durga Puja festival in the city, bringing together tradition and innovation in a captivating display of artistry,” a Croma official said.
WHAT ARE ALPONA or ALPANA?
Alpona, also known as alpana, is a traditional folk art found in parts of India like West Bengal and Bangladesh. This art form involves making intricate designs on the ground or floor. People create these patterns using materials like rice flour, rice paste, or even things like flower petals, turmeric, and vermilion.
These designs can be as simple as geometric shapes or very detailed, showing things like flowers, birds, animals, and other symbols. Each of these designs carries special meaning and often has a spiritual significance. It’s a beautiful and meaningful way of decorating spaces in these regions.
DURGA PUJA IN KOLKATA
During Durga Puja, the city of Kolkata comes alive with elaborate decorations, massive temporary structures known as pandals, and artistic idols of the goddess Durga. These pandals are like art installations, each with a unique theme, and people from all over the city, as well as tourists, visit them to admire the craftsmanship and creativity on display.
The main days of the festival, known as ‘Mahalaya,’ mark the arrival of the goddess Durga, and the immersion of the idols in the river, also called ‘Vijaya Dashami,’ is the culmination of the festival. Durga Puja is a time of cultural performances, music, dance, and various traditional rituals. It’s a time when the people of Kolkata come together to celebrate, worship, and enjoy the festivities, making it a truly remarkable and vibrant cultural experience.