Kolkata: The struggling tourism sector in West Bengal can hope to see better days through a route via Mumbai's Lokhandwala during the Durga Puja festival in October.

The organisers of Mumbai's famous Andheri Lokhandwala Sarvajanin Durgotsav Samiti has sought cooperation of the state government in projecting the state's tourism potential.

Popular Hindi film singer Abhijeet, who is the soul behind Lokhandwala puja, said their theme this year would be Bengal tourism, which, he believed, would help attract tourists to the many beautiful places in the state.

He said the puja organisers had submitted a proposal to the state's tourism minister, Rachhpal Singh, seeking cooperation in executing the theme.

Rachhpal Singh told that, "Abhijeet's proposal is welcome and I hope it will play its part in boosting tourism during festival time."

The puja committee has already started preliminary work on the theme, highlighting the state's rich tradition and culture, the singer said.

The pandal would highlight Darjeeling, Dooars, Digha Sundarbans and other popular destinations, besides showcasing the state's handloom, handicraft and favourite cuisine including various hilsa dishes, he said.

Abhijeet said they had purchased last year's prize winning Durga image in Kolkata's Naktala Udayan Sangha for this year's puja at Lokhandawala.

The singer said the image, made by Bhabatosh Sutar might, however, be returned as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wanted to preserve it in a museum.

"Like previous years, we will try to draw attention of the international crowd, and definitely the probashi (expatriate) Bengali population, with Bengali songs and music," Abhijeet said, adding last year's theme was the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore.

"Last year our theme was 150th birth year of poet Rabindranath Tagore, in which we projected the revered poet’s works across the pandal," Abhijeet said.

From last year, he said, they had started choosing one personality from Bengal every year and pay tribute to his contribution to Bengal’s culture.

"This year too we will felicitate personalities from Bengal including poets, singers and artists," he said.

He said the high-budget Lokhandwala Durga puja is organised only on corporate sponsorship and without any public donation.

Not only his puja, many other pujas organised in Mumbai also highlight Bengal themes.

The Sant Sai Baba School ground in Panvel had last year for instance created a replica of Kolkata’s Victoria Memorial Hall.

The Milantirtha Durga Puja Pandal was made by craftsmen from Bengal's Krishnanagar, giving the people a glimpse of vintage Bengal.

Bengal Club at Shivaji Park and the Durgabari Samiti of Tejpal Hall also last year paid tribute to Swami Vivekananda taking help of the expertise of Ramakrishna Mission.


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