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Translating Traditions: Durga Puja Pavilion, Kolkata

Posted by
on October 16, 2014 at 04:30 PM

Durga puja is one of the biggest socio-cultural and religious festivals in India especially in Bengal. Millions of people congregate to various pavilions for this 4-day celebration. Architects Ranit Maiti and Subhrajit Gunakar Mitra of Square Design Consultancy, Kolkata created a temporary pavilion for this year’s Ballygunje Cultural Association’s Durga Puja. Celebrated across the globe among the Bengali population, the temporary pavilions or pandals to house the Goddess’s idols are creatively designed and beautifully crafted. Usually a domain of local artists and artisans, this was the first time that an architectural firm has designed a Durga Puja pavilion.

© Courtesy of Square Design Consultancy

Architecture has always been the mirror of the society. Historically it has represented the changes in the socio-cultural and political scenario. Durga Puja being one of the biggest socio-cultural and religious festival in India, the temporary pavilions or  pandals set up to house the idols and visited by millions of people in a course of 4-5 days, are intriguing and challenging to design.


In the design of the structure of the pavilion at Ballygunge Cultural Association’s Durga Puja, the architect duo focused on re-interpretation of traditions, using new materials and new technology. The concept embodies how tradition can be preserved and celebrated within the modern mechanized society. It does not copy anachronistic elements from the past but mirrors the underlying values and respect for the tradition in its own way, to create a public space that is self-contained, in its design, form, material and method of construction.  The concept explores the volumetric aspects of space that can evoke the sensory experience of the visitors by the change of scale, from human to monumental, through the formal composition of the various elements – and augmented by proper illumination.

Form and Materials

The structure uses the latest parametric forms of the modern architectural designs, simulated in computers and uses modern industrial materials like steel, acrylic and iron – instead of the conventional bamboo and cloth. The use of steel ensures that the material can be reused effectively for other purposes as well.


Like any other architectural edifice the pavilion also uses strong but modern symbolic expressions borrowing from the traditional ones. The transformation from red to blue, from outside to inside represents the journey from evil to good as one enters the sanctuary. Here too, a parallel may be drawn with temple architecture – where facades had voluptuous, hedonistic sculptures and then the inward journey led to a complete feeling of holiness as one enters the inside sanctum. The four pillars, the trees of life connect the earth to the heaven above. The inscriptions on the laser-cut metal sheets remind one of the stone inscriptions of the ancient temples that were meant to deliver religious, social and moral messages to the masses.


The stupendous success of the installation can be an inspiration for many architects to explore the realm of temporary public spaces, for social gatherings, religious functions, and exhibitions - a realm hitherto dominated by aritsts and craftsmen, in the Indian setup.

Designer : Square Design Consultancy
Photography :Square Design Consultancy

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