The pavements at Gariahat, Kolkata’s one of the major shopping hubs, remain busy throughout the year. And, prior to any festivity, even if brim with shoppers months ahead, traffic police and civic volunteers deal with the traffic congestions with ease.

But, when you see their tense faces as anxiety grips them over traffic management and crowd control with thousands of people thronging Gariahat crossings even at around 11 p.m., you know it is the time of Durga Puja, the most-awaited festival of the year in Bengal.

Three famous Durga Puja pandals located in Gariahat in southern part of the city -- Ekdalia Evergreen, Singhi Park and Hindustan Park -- attract pandal hoppers.

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Corporate India gets involved in the community pujas as the grandeur of the festival provides an opportunity for advertising campaigns to further brand visibility, consumer engagement, cultural alignment, regional relevance, and sales and promotions.

Targeting pandal-hoppers, companies such as Coca-Cola, IndianOil, Dabur, Daikin and Adani Wilmarhave put up their hoardings, banners, flexes and kiosks around the three eye-catching pandals this year.

“We feel good, happy and proud in participating major local festivals,” Daikin India Director and Senior VP Kuldeepak Virmani told businessline. “We want to be a part of the celebrations. We get brand association with the people there.”

The Japanese air conditioning manufacturer has increased Durga Puja sponsorship this year compared with last year. Major FMCG companies such as Dabur and ITC have also expanded corporate sponsorships for puja organisers.

Idol of Goddess Durga at a community ‘puja pandal’ ahead of Durga Puja festival, in Kolkata, Friday, Oct. 20, 2023

Idol of Goddess Durga at a community ‘puja pandal’ ahead of Durga Puja festival, in Kolkata, Friday, Oct. 20, 2023 | Photo Credit: -

Higher corporate sponsorships have helped swell community puja budgets by about 20-30 per cent this year compared with 2022.

Budgets for big and well-known community pujas in Kolkata vary between ₹1.5 crore and ₹3 crore, and about 70 per cent of this comes from corporate sponsorships.

“We increased the sponsorship by around 12 per cent this year compared to last year on major pandals, streets, Bari Puja (family pujas), outdoor advertising etc,” said Rajiv Dubey, head media & consumer activation, Dabur India.

“Durga Puja is a major festival in West Bengal and other parts of India. It provides an excellent opportunity for Dabur to connect with consumers in these regions on a cultural and emotional level,” Dubey said, adding as the Puja attracts large crowds and extensive media coverage, sponsoring or participating in the festivities helps the company increase brand visibility and awareness.

Also read: Kolkata Durga puja bags UNESCO heritage tag

Some of Dabur’s key brands are Red Paste, Chyawanprash, Hajmola, Dabur Honey, Gulabari, Amla Hair Oil and Pudin Hara.

Companies executives said associating with culturally significant events such as Durga puja can help them align their brands with local traditions and values, which could resonate positively with consumers.

“Brands of ITC like Aashirvaad, Yippee!, Sunfeast and Bingo! have always been part of major celebrations of India, Durga Puja being one of them. Participation is based on the strong pillars of meaningful and rich consumer experiences, built around the core of the brand,” a spokesperson from ITC’s Foods Division said.

“This year, budgets for community pujas in Kolkata have increased significantly. On an average, the budget has increased by around 20-30 per cent compared with last year. One of the main reasons for it is that corporate sponsorships witnessed a significant rise,” said Partho Ghosh, chairman of “Forum for Durgotsab”, a leading organisation of community Durga pujas in the city.

About 3,500 community pujas are organised in Kolkata. A number of foreign visitors in the city during puja time has been rising every year. The festival made it to Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2021.