Recession tones down Puja grandeur of non-resident Bengalis

Shobha Roy Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on October 13, 2012 Published on October 13, 2012

The ongoing economic crisis has cast a pall on Durga Puja celebrations overseas. While some organisers reported a drop in local corporate sponsorships, others confirmed a dip in budgets.

The London Durga Puja Dusserah Committee, which organises its Puja at Camden Centre, has downsized its budget this year, according to Kalyan Majumder, treasurer. Considered one of the biggest religious and cultural festivals of Bengal, Durga Puja is celebrated with great fervour by non-resident Bengalis across the globe.

“We have been affected by the recessionary trends setting in this year. In the UK, the dip in local corporate sponsorships has been pretty sharp,” Majumder told Business Line.

The average budget of the Puja spanning a five-day period is between £20,000 and £40,000 (approximately Rs 17-34 lakh).

Managing costs

As a part of its cost cutting measures, Puja committees are doing away with the practice of putting up a marquee for the exhibitors, which was much in vogue till recently, said Sayantan Das Adhikary, Director of Kolkata-based event management firm Candid Communication.

Waning corporate interest is being partly offset by rising interest from local communities and Indian corporate sponsorships.

“A steady increase in audiences leads to good donations. This apart, we also have membership fees,” a committee member of MK Ananda Club, which organises its Puja at Milton Keynes in UK, said.

Cutting across sectors such as banking, real estate, healthcare, and entertainment, some Indian companies are looking to tap overseas Puja forums for increasing brand awareness.

Indian sponsorships

The State Bank of India) and HDFC are two such banks that intend to tap the overseas market for home loans.

Sponsorship support from Indian corporates too moved up by nearly 40-45 per cent of the total budget in some cases this year as compared to about 30-35 per cent last year.

The Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences (RTIICS) for example has tied up with two or three Pujas in the UK this year. Databazaar Media, an IPTV service provider, will sponsor London’s Panchamukhee Puja.

Local media too has shown interest in tapping the market. ABP-Ananda, with its “Global Durga Puja”, theme will cover Pujas in overseas locations that include London, Paris and Australia.

Media interest

“Overseas Puja coverage has a huge audience feedback. The senior family members based in Kolkata want to catch a glimpse of the Bengali diaspora overseas,” an ABP-Ananda official said.

The Zee-backed 24-Ghanta too will be heading overseas this Puja. It will exclusively broadcast two London based Pujas – Camden and MK Ananda.

“The Pujas will be broadcast under our Probasher Puja brand,” Arindam Chakraborty, Editor (Output), 24-Ghanta said.



Published on October 13, 2012
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