In Kumartoli, a slender avenue in north Kolkata, the place ‘Kumhars’ (clay sculptors) have lived for hundreds of years, statuettes of Durga, the ten-armed goddess who will reign over this nice metropolis for 5 days ranging from Monday, are being carted off by porters utilizing ropes and bamboo poles.
Final second ending touches are being given to these left within the meeting line of the gods which have sprung up within the studios which dot the lane and can ship out on Monday or ‘Shashti’, the sixth day of the ‘Devi Paksha’ (festive days of the goddess).
“This entire space, now buzzing with artists engaged on idols, will look abandoned when the goddesses are carried to family and neighborhood pujas,” stated Deepak Dey, 48, who runs a studio store specialising in miniature goddesses, which many purchase for festivities at dwelling.
The pandemic has dimmed the festivities considerably, and orders are fewer however “nonetheless ok to offer bread and butter to our neighborhood,” stated Dey.
In a singular ritual that underlines the societal equality the carnival of the goddess seeks to advertise, soil borrowed from the red-light districts of Kolkata is ritualistically blended with silt from the banks of the mighty river Ganges to make the clay from which the gods are sculpted.
“The clay represents all sections of the society. The ritual was most likely began to stress that the Mom goddess belongs to everybody and never simply the wealthy and the highly effective,” stated Deepankar Chatterjee, Secretary of the `Sebayit’ (hereditary servitors) Govt Council of Kalighat temple, who can also be an organiser of the Durga Puja in that space.
Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee affords prayers to Goddess Durga throughout Durga puja pageant in Kolkata. (PTI Picture)
Whereas Durga rituals began on Mahalaya, the final day of ‘Krishna Paksha’ (darkish fortnight) within the month of Ashwin in accordance with the Indian calendar, the height festivities start on the sixth day’s night when monks “breathe life” into the clay idol by way of a ritual referred to as ‘bodhan’ or awakening.
The Devi Mahatmaya and Devi-Bhagwat Purana legends adopted by the Shakt faculty of Hinduism speaks of the goddess Durga who was created and armed by the gods to defeat King Mahishasur, a demon Lord turned tyrant.
Legends describe how she went into battle sitting atop a lion to slay the hated ruler and earn the title ‘Mahishasurmardini’ (slayer of Mahishasur).
Nevertheless, Mahishshurmardini whose early statuettes have been present in Ghazni in Afghanistan and Mysore in Karnataka has slowly made jap India and Kolkata, particularly, her “dwelling” over the previous few centuries.
Whereas nobody is sort of positive the place the legend of Durga originated, worshippers in Kolkata are sure that she is their mom and daughter rolled into one.
In accordance with folks custom, she comes dwelling from the Himalayas to sojourn in her ‘Baper Bari’ (dad and mom’ home) along with her 4 youngsters — Ganesha, Lakshmi, Sarasvati, and Kartik — reaching the Gangetic delta on Shashti and returns on the tenth day from ‘Mahalaya’ to her Himalayan abode when her idols are consecrated into the river.
Stated Uday Shankar, well-known Delhi-based cartoonist who grew up in Kumartoli and is at the moment judging a Durga sculpture competitors within the metropolis, “The creativity that I’m witnessing right here regardless of pandemic and lack of cash available in the market, is testimony to creative resilience of our sculptors.”
Kolkata: An artist decorates an idol of Goddess Durga forward of Durga Puja pageant, at Kumartuly in Kolkata.(PTI Picture)
New and modern themes have cropped up. From the extremely political theme of Durga being depicted as a mom hit by the continued Nationwide Registration of Residents and being carted off to refugee camp to the modern marquee of a Bioscope made out of junked family home equipment, by way of which Durga might be considered, artists right here “have given us meals for thought,” stated Shankar.
Extra conventional Durga Pujas, together with within the ‘zamindar’ (property proprietor) households of Shyambazar Rajbari, Saborna Roy Chowdhurys and Hatkhola’s Dutta Bari proceed to worship the mom goddess in additional conventional apparel sans “themes”.
Nevertheless, their model, too, has change into a theme for a lot of neighborhood pujas with one puja in south Kolkata’s tony Hindusthan Park space making a marquee formed like an previous Zamindari mansion.
Durga Pujas on the properties of Bengal’s aristocrats is about 4 to 5 centuries previous. By the point the East India Firm wrested the ‘Diwani’ (taxation rights) over Bengal, these pujas had remodeled into celebrations with musical and nautch soirees the place the English rulers too had been invited.
Nevertheless, a bit of over a century again, the idea of neighborhood pujas grew to become widespread the place celebrations had been held by accumulating donations from the general public at giant. Most of the pujas had hyperlinks with revolutionary organisations of that period.
Stated Prof Kingshuk Chatterjee of Calcutta College’s Historical past Division, “Neighborhood Durga Pujas had been all the time used for political mobilisation simply as Ganapathy Puja was utilized in Bombay.”
BCCI President Sourav Ganguly with followers through the inauguration of Barisha Gamers Nook’s Goddess Durga Puja, in Kolkata. (PTI Picture)
The huge public involvement made the pageant, Kolkata’s and jap India’s largest annual carnival, and a vacationer draw for a lot of from different components of India and overseas. Most places of work shut down or work with skeletal employees throughout this time.
With such reputation for a spiritual pageant, which cuts throughout spiritual divides and has the town’s Muslims, Christians, and Parsis becoming a member of in, it’s however pure that political patronage has change into intertwined with religion.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been saved busy for the final three days inaugurating Durga pujas throughout the town, whereas many a puja on this extremely political metropolis, boasts of a reference to a ruling celebration or an opposition celebration chief.
Amongst others, West Bengal Minister Firhad Hakim is related to Chetla Agrani, whereas former Congress chief and now TMC Minister Subrata Mukherjee is linked to Ekdalia Evergreen’s Durga Puja.
“At one time, even the CPI(M) used to have stalls at Puja venues! Even at this time events see the Puja as a serious mass mobilisation automobile,” Prof Chatterjee stated.
In fact, with a pandemic nonetheless raging, the state authorities and the Calcutta Excessive Courtroom have given orders to regulate crowds and to keep up security and social distancing in any respect Puja venues.
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