A Durga pandal in Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh is setting a new standard for pandal decoration and fanfare this Dussehra. According to a report, the Ramanandnagar pandal in Allahabad has decorated its walls with posters of Indian female athletes and sportswomen. Posters of ten sportswomen adorn the walls of this pandal, which include tennis player Sania Mirza, golfer Sharmila Nicollet, wrestler Geeta Phogat, cricketer Mitali Raj, chess player Tania Sachdev, boxer Mary Kom, badminton players PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, and archer Deepika Kumari.
The pandal also lists down their awards and merits, along with details about their career graphs. The report adds that the pandal committee wanted to create awareness about female athletes in India. They also wanted to encourage parents visiting the pandal to consider sports as a serious option for their daughters. They are hopeful that highlighting the achievements of these female athletes will help dispel the falsely held belief that women cannot succeed in sports.
Allahabad is not alone in its stance. Delhi’s Safdarjung Enclave pandal, famous for winning awards for its pandals, has also chosen to highlight female athletes in its pandal this year. While Allahabad pandal has put up posters and details of the athletes, its Delhi counterpart has created plastered replicas of Indian sportswomen.
This is not the first time the Ramanandpur pandal committee has used a female-centric theme for its Durga pandals. Last year, it raised awareness about the importance of educating a girl child by adapting the government’s Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao campaign as a theme. Using themes for decorating pandals is an old creative tradition. Most organisers use the pandals as an opportunity to show-off what their area’s committee can do. A lot of pandals go all out with their fanfare by trying to recreate a rainforest or a beach inside their pandals. But the Allahabad and Delhi pandals using the public platform to create awareness about female athletes is a brilliant tactic to open dialogue about the importance of encouraging girls to pursue sports in education. In a country where female sportswomen are fighting to be recognised for their work and are demanding equal pay and opportunities, highlighting their achievements to dispels myths about women and sports is absolutely laudable.