West Bengal is super charged during Durga Puja. The energy and excitement among people is omnipresent. It is a festival that the entire state looks forward to throughout the year. It is as if everyone’s effort is focused only on the festival for the period.

Durga Puja is also the time for people to reconnect with their friends and family and pandal hopping is de rigueur during the festival week. That is exactly what the youth do across the state as they live up to the Thums Up tagline – being toofani!

The festival this year saw youngsters swarming at the pandals, high on adrenaline. Their celebrations were on high voltage through each day.

But who were the most toofani youth of West Bengal? Thums Up, in association with ABP, decided to identify some of them. Nearly a month before the festival peaked, with a series of activities at four locations across Kolkata, Midnapore and Burdwan districts, the Thums Up team got busy. It was time for action to choose members of the ‘Thums Up Toofani Gang.’

Bringing out the heroes among youth

One sip of Thums Up and you know it tastes like thunder. The contest was about people getting to experience this thunder and unleash the heroes within. To be in the race as one of the Toofani Gang members, several tough tasks had to be completed.

The activities needed raw energy and a lot of determination – crossing obstacles, jumping between tyres, carrying heavy rucksacks, crawling through tunnels and others. The chosen heroes needed to come up trumps not just through all the obstacle courses but also during the mega audition that followed with a question-and-answer session.

30 Toofani Gang members had to be chosen from the activities, 10 for each of the three cities. These contents were held in colleges and markets where the youth would compete and thousands would support in attendance. While most of the activation happened on ground, one of the winners was to be identified from smart answers received from online and radio contests held alongside.

The contest was challenging since it tested both brain and brawn. But what is a hero who does not have both in adequate measure? Those who could complete the obstacles with their raw power and follow up with witty answers to the questions thrown at them would catch the judges’ eye.

Once through with the tough three-stage contest, the winners had the icing on the cake waiting for them, just like the fizz when the Thums Up bottle is opened. Bengali movie stars Soham Chakraborty, Priyanka Sarkar and Abir Chatterjee were going to accompany them when they went pandal hopping!

“I (had) never thought that I would be able to meet my favourite celebrities. It was a dream come true to spend time with them,” Akash Santra, a first-year humanities student, said.

“I had never thought that I would meet Abir (Chatterjee) and Priyanka (Sarkar) and Thums Up gave me this opportunity. So, I am very thankful to them,” Shubhankar Das said after having an experience of a lifetime.

Boundless energy

The 30 members of the Thums Up Toofani Gang had now been chosen. The competition was officially over. But the adrenaline was pumping even more as Durga Puja was round the corner. A new energy was taking over as West Bengal and its people were soaked in festive spirit.

On their two-wheelers, the Toofani Gang hopped from one pandal to another, much like millions of others in the state, to seek the blessings of the Goddess. It needed energy to go pandal hopping through the festival season and the chosen few were not found lacking. The competition had begun three weeks earlier and the winners showed sustained excitement and energy worthy of true heroes.

“I thank Thums Up wholeheartedly for giving me this opportunity to meet celebrities and have such special moments that I would always remember,” Shubhankar Das, a college student, said after the three weeks of whirlwind action.

Durga Puja is by far the most popular festival in West Bengal, much like Thums Up is the preferred cola in the country. It brings out latent energy among people of the state, who work with limitless zeal in the weeks ahead of the puja to put up pandals and offer their respects. It is an occasion when tradition blends with modernity since many a pandal are decorated with modern themes, even while the puja offering is very traditional in nature.

It is also the time when people feast on a variety of traditional foods, and with its iconic taste, Thums Up is a great accompaniment. Associating with the local culture is part of Thums Up’s efforts to be associated with the lives of the youth.