Interview: Rana Banerjee on Balaka Sports Club of BD Block in Salt Lake, Kolkata - History, Heritage & Their Noted Kali Puja


Click on Play to listen to Rana Banerjee on Balaka Sports Club of BD Block Salt Lake & their renowned Kali Puja

Washington, DC, Oct 17, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Nilotpal Banerjee, popularly known as Rana-da, is a founding-member of the prestigious Balaka Sports Club with it's home at BD Block in Salt Lake (Bidhan Nagar), Calcutta.

As you know, Balaka Sports Club and Washington Bangla Radio are about to present a live web-cast of Balaka Shyama Puja directly from BD Park in Salt Lake, making this noted Shyama Puja the first in Bengal, indeed in all of India,  to be webcast live world-wide over the internet. NRIs and expatriate Bengalees across the globe will be able to watch Balaka Kali Pujo Live Online here »

In this candid chat with Arijit Chakraborty, Rana-da talks about the origin, history, heritage and the path forward of Balaka. Balaka organizes one of the best-known Kali Pujas in Kolkata every year, and Rana-da also shares with us some of the unique aspects of their Kali Puja. The wooden frame-work for the idol of Goddess Kali is reused every year. The frame itself is special in it's three-wooden-bar construction. More importantly, the idol itself is sculpted at the venue by the best multi-generational clay sculptors brought in from Krishnanagar. The idol's decoration is completely done with items contributed by residents and club members. And of course, Balaka Kali Puja is associated with a multi-night cultural extravaganza featuring a who's-who of Indian performing arts - virtually every famous singer has been on Balaka's stage. This year, performers include icons like Kavita Krishnamurty, L. Subramanium and Kunal Ganjawala.

Rana-da, himself one of the first settlers of Salt Lake, also shares with us some remarkable aspects of Balaka Sports Club itself. What is today BD Market was actually a hospital during the time of the Bangladesh liberation war of 1971. In 1973, around the time BD Market was established, Rana-da and his like-minded friends launched Balaka Sports Club as an avenue for the local youth to socialize, participate in sporting events and extend their hands into social service. Other than the well-known Kali Puja, Balaka continues to serve the locality by helping senior citizens, organizing blood donation camps, observing India's Independence Day by hoisting their national flag and so on. Today Rana-da is part of the senior advisory group of Balaka, with the club's administration handed off to younger generations. As Rana-da proudly points out, membership of supporters of today's Balaka span across five different age-groups.

Rana-da writes, "Established in 1973, BALAKA as popularly recognised in Salt Lake, is one of the oldest binding forces of residents who had initiated early settlement in the area years ago. Apart from being involved in providing sporting talent at various levels of sports and games, the club actively supports and helps in organizing social activities and events throughout the year.

Something which had started as the only Kali Puja in the area still exists as one of the biggest events organised during which the community celebrates its biggest festive season. The venue known as B.D. Park is one of the most populated and frequented areas in Salt Lake with the busiest market place adjoining the venue, and is also strategically located along the major thoroughfare for public travelling in the area being the 1st. Avenue.

Public from the adjoining areas of Lake Town, Sree Bhumi, Bangur Avenue and Dum Dum Park have clear access via the popular footbridge from V.I.P. Road to the venue and the latest destination in the area being "City Centre" which virtually stands next door.

With the biggest Pratima in the locality built with serious heritage style of traditional artwork, the Mandap Area has an average footfall of at least 1,00,000 visitors during the entire span of four days celebration. Coverage by renowned press and television channels as one of the frontrunners for the "Puja Awards" further enhances the target audience at least two times.

During the four day festivity, starting from 25/10/11, the Cultural Bonanza includes eminent artists from all over the country. This being the 39th. year the cultural stage will be graced by Kavita Krishnamurthy along with L. Subramanium and Kunal Ganjawala on the 27/10/11 & 28/10/11 respectively.

Needless to mention the various prizes won by the club in the past, this celebration has had the privilege of being inaugurated by the Hon'ble Governor of West Bengal and also been covered in a photo feature in its title page by the highest selling daily of the country."

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