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Legend has it that when Mahishasur, the mythological buffalo demon wreaked havoc after waging war against the gods, the latter, including Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, were unable to defeat him. It took the might of a woman -- Goddess Durga, to take down the demon king who was rendered invincible in front of any man, with Brahma's blessing of immortality. It is the valour exhibited by Durga and every other woman to eliminate the evil in the society, that is being celebrated by Matri Mandir Sarbojanin Durga Puja Samiti here this year, with "Nari Shakti" as their pandal theme. "We are of the firm belief that empowering women is the key to building a safe and secure future for our children and Maa Durga is the epitome of 'Nari Shakti'," said Debashis Saha, general secretary of the puja samiti. The pandal will showcase success stories of strong and powerful contemporary women personalities -- Mother Teresa, Kalpana Chawla, the Indian Women's Cricket and Hockey teams, Dipa Karmakar, Lata Mangeshkar, Suchitra Sen, among others - to drive home the message. Out of the three main gates in the pandal precincts, the first will be dedicated to Poorna, the tribal girl who conquered Mount Everest at the age of 13. The second gate will feature the many avataars of goddess Durga, showcasing her strength to fight against evil. The third gate will be recreated as a tree, symbolic of the entire women community, that is a source of "oxygen to our society". Inside the pandal will be exhibited life-size cut-outs of women personalities like P T Usha, Mary Kom, P V Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Sakshi Malik, Dipa Karmakar, Deepika Kumari, Deepa Malik, Anjali Bhagwat among others. The idea for the theme, Saha told PTI, was conceptualised by the members of the samiti, and brought to life by their in-house designers. "It has taken 40 workers, who have worked round the clock for more than two months, to complete the decoration in the present form," Saha said. The line-up for the cultural programme is also hard to miss, with the first evening on September 27, being dedicated to legendary composer R D Burman. The show will see the members from Burman's original band -- Kishore Soda, Rajendra Soda, Franko Vaz, Shyam Raj -- belting out some of Pancham da's legendary tunes. The programme on subsequent days will have singer and Union Minister Babul Supriyo taking to the stage to perform his memorable songs from Bollywood hit films like "Kaho Na Pyaar Hai", "Hum Tum" and "Hello Brother". To make the celebrations eco-friendly, the committee has decided to go off plastic plates to serve 'prasad'. "We have decided to do away with plastic plates this year and have specially ordered cups and plates of betel nuts," Saha said. Durga Puja, this year begins on September 26 and will come to an end with Dussehra on September 30.
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