This Durga Puja, one of the oldest pandals in is taking a stand against terrorism by recreating the opulent Palais Garnier, the National Opera House of France.

Delhi’s Matri Mandir Society is paying tribute to the French people for their resilience following a spate of terror attacks, through their golden jubilee celebrations of the Bengali festival this year to be held from October 7 to October 11. The society says their aim is to propagate the idea of world peace at a time the world is fighting the menace of terrorism.

“We thought it would be appropriate to dedicate this year’s Durga Puja to world peace as Maa Durga brought peace to the land by eliminating Mahisasur,” says Debashish Saha, General Secretary, Matri Mandir Society.

The French capital has suffered a series of terror strikes since last year — beginning with an attack on the offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in January 2015, followed by several mass shootings and a suicide bombing across multiple locations, including the Bataclan theatre that left 130 people dead, in November.

The grandeur of the National Opera House will be replicated at the pandal in the form of an oval-shaped hall made out of iron cast, wood and metallic sheets. The original colour scheme of red and gold will dominate along with balconies, typical of neoclassical architecture.

“Despite the attacks France has not been deterred and is back on its feet sending a strong message all over the world that this wonderful world cannot be destroyed,” says Saha. The constructions of the pandal which began almost a month back are likely to be completed by early next month.

A half-finished idol of Goddess Durga, made by Kolkata-based award-winning sculptor Pradip Rudra Pal has already been brought to the city and will be completed by the artist and his team here.

“The artist is among the greatest sculptors that Kolkata has ever seen. His family has been in the profession of creating idols for over 60 years,” says Saha. A unique attraction at the society’s Durga Puja festivities this year will be the 7-membered-troupe of dhakis (drummers) lead by Gokul Das, out of which three are women percussionists.
Das has performed alongside musical greats like Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Anuskha Shankar as well as popular Bollywood composer Shantanu Moitra. The cultural line up will also include Bollywood singer Kavita Krishnamurthy and Bengali folk crooner Aarko Mukherjee.