Kolkata: A darshan of resplendent Goddess Durga in all her finery beating queues can easily be had at pandals this year by buying VIP passes, a new element in the pujas this year.
The Rs 85 VIP pass to 20 prominent Durga Puja pandals is being sold by e-commerce company Groupon in association with Durgapujatour.com.
“This is for the first time that these VIP passes are available for common people at a good price. If you can afford it, why shouldn't you get it?” Ankur Warikoo, CEO of Groupon India, told PTI.
So far 1200 people have bought around 2500 passes from the company website.
In preceding years, the privileged and well-connected could procure VIP passes from organisers to enter major puja pandals from a special entrance without having to stand for hours in queue.
A spokesperson of Durgapujatour.com said thousands of the passes were sold from their office.
“We are also getting a good number of orders from corporate houses which are giving away these passes to their employees or gifting it to clients,” he said.
For puja organisers, it is a value-added service offered at a price.
Swarup Biswas, general secretary of New Alipore's Suruchi Sangha, said selling VIP passes is also a means of getting additional funds in times of recession.
“This is an additional budgetary support which we get. This is almost like we are collecting a small subscription from those who are getting VIP access to our puja,” he said.
Other puja organisers selling passes include Hatibagan Nabin Palli in north Kolkata, Chaltabagan in Amherst Street, Santoshpur Lake Pally, Chakraberia Sarbojanin, 95 Palli - Jodhpur Park, Behala Natun Dal and Barisha Club.
A portion of the money collected by selling such passes go for the welfare of ‘dhakis' (traditional drummers), the people who arrange the lighting, besides ‘pandits', organisers said.