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Durga, the Himalayan goddess, arrives to reign over the megapolis of Kolkata

In Kumartoli, a slender road 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 complete space, now buzzing with artists engaged on idols, will look abandoned when the goddesses are carried to family and group pujas,” mentioned 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 adequate to offer bread and butter to our group,” mentioned Dey.

In a novel 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,” mentioned 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 provides prayers to Goddess Durga throughout Durga puja competition in Kolkata. (PTI Picture)

Whereas Durga rituals began on Mahalaya, the final day of ‘Krishna Paksha’ (darkish fortnight) within the month of Ashwin in response to 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 college 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 identify ‘Mahishasurmardini’ (slayer of Mahishasur).

Nevertheless, Mahishshurmardini whose early statuettes have been present in Ghazni in Afghanistan and Mysore in Karnataka has slowly made japanese India and Kolkata, particularly, her “dwelling” over the previous few centuries.

Whereas nobody is sort of certain 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 people custom, she comes dwelling from the Himalayas to sojourn in her ‘Baper Bari’ (dad and mom’ home) along with her 4 kids — 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 out there, is testimony to inventive resilience of our sculptors.”

Durga Puja, Durga Puja celebrations, Durga Puja 2021, Durga Puja in Kolkata, Durga Puja themes, Durga Puja pandals, significance of Durga Puja, why is Durga Puja celebrated, indian express news Kolkata: An artist decorates an idol of Goddess Durga forward of Durga Puja competition, at Kumartuly in Kolkata.(PTI Picture)

New and progressive 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 progressive marquee of a Bioscope made out of junked family home equipment, by way of which Durga may be seen, artists right here “have given us meals for thought,” mentioned 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 develop into a theme for a lot of group 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 reworked into celebrations with musical and nautch soirees the place the English rulers too had been invited.

Nevertheless, a bit over a century again, the idea of group pujas grew to become common the place celebrations had been held by gathering donations from the general public at giant. Lots of the pujas had hyperlinks with revolutionary organisations of that period.

Stated Prof Kingshuk Chatterjee of Calcutta College’s Historical past Division, “Group Durga Pujas had been at all times used for political mobilisation simply as Ganapathy Puja was utilized in Bombay.”

Durga Puja, Durga Puja celebrations, Durga Puja 2021, Durga Puja in Kolkata, Durga Puja themes, Durga Puja pandals, significance of Durga Puja, why is Durga Puja celebrated, indian express news 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 competition, Kolkata’s and japanese India’s greatest annual carnival, and a vacationer draw for a lot of from different elements of India and overseas. Most workplaces shut down or work with skeletal workers throughout this time.

With such reputation for a non secular competition, 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 develop 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 social gathering or an opposition social gathering 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 significant mass mobilisation car,” Prof Chatterjee mentioned.

In fact, with a pandemic nonetheless raging, the state authorities and the Calcutta Excessive Court docket have given orders to manage crowds and to keep up security and social distancing in any respect Puja venues.

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