Durga comes from the banks of Ganga to Shivaji Park

A team of 15 artisans has moulded an 18-ft tall idol of the deity with 200 kg of Gangetic clay, for the 76th annual celebration

Legend has it that Maa Durga travels the length of the holy River Ganges every year, to reach her maternal home, Kolkata. And after five days of revelry, adoring devotees lovingly immerse their mother goddess on the same river, so she can make a quiet journey back to Kailash. Keeping this in mind, Dadar's popular Bengal Club Puja Committee has decided to mould their Durga idol with clay from the very river that embodies the spirit of Maa Durga. Standing 18-ft tall, the idol of the deity has been made with 200 kg of Gangetic clay, which was collected personally by sculptor Amit Pal, from the banks of the holy river.

Nanugopal Pal drapes a saree around the deity.

Sculptor Amit Pal gives final touches to the idol, which is made of
Gangetic clay. Pics/ Sayed Sameer Abedi 

The committee hosts one of the oldest and most popular Durga Puja celebrations in the city at Shivaji Park every year, with the footfall at the pandal touching five lakh every day.

Pal, assisted by a team of 20 craftsmen, creates about 25 idols of the goddess every year at a makeshift tent, which he rents from the BMC. The eco-friendly idols are purchased for Rs 10,000 each. The idol for the Bengal Club, however, is a cut above the rest, with a price tag of Rs 75,000.

Pal said, "I have been handling the idol-making business ever since my father's demise three years ago. We have been crafting idols for the Bengal Club for almost 40 years. We use a lot of Gangetic clay for the Bengal Club's idol, and thus it is the most expensive idol that we sell, at Rs 75,000."

Nanugopal Pal, an artisan at the pandal who was busy draping a saree around the deity, said, "Five to six artisans worked for 15 days to make the idols of Maa Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganpati and Karthik. The clay that is used to mould the idol is from the Ganges itself, and all the deity's adornments and attire come from Kolkata. I have been working in Mumbai for the past two months, and will return home only once the puja is over."

Amit Chowdhury, vice-president of the committee, said, "People travel miles to visit our pandal, and soak up the Bengali atmosphere. This year, the committee has tried to bring alive the nostalgia and old world charm of Kolkata. Our patrons visit not only for darshan -- they also do some diwali shopping in the process, as a number of stalls sell the most resplendent Bengali sarees at our fair. People from Bengal come here to sell special Bengali delicacies. Like every year, we will be giving bhog to devotees from Monday to Wednesday, and are expecting huge crowds in lakhs to flock to our pandal."

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