In a bid to draw attention to the handloom sector, particularly the “dying” jute industry in Bengal, one of the oldest pandals in the city has decided to worship a durga idol made of jute this year. Arambagh Puja Samiti here has designed the pandal on the the theme, “In Search of Roots” for which they have procured a “small” jute idol of the Indian Goddess from Purulia in West Bengal.
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“I think this is first of it’s kind puja where the idol has been made from jute. We are trying to create awareness about the dying jute industry. We have called for a small Durga idol from West Bengal, which will be preserved in a museum after the puja,” says Abhijit Bose, Executive Chairman of Arambagh Puja Samiti.
The move, he says, is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative to promote the handloom sector in the country.
The idol has been designed by Gouranga Kuila, a Bengal-based artist who received the National Award for handicrafts in 2002.
The Samiti which has previously created pandals on issues like ‘World Peace’ and ‘Women Empowerment’ feels that their theme this year would encourage people to use products made of jute which in turn will help in boosting the industry’s growth.
“The condition of jute industry in India is very critical today. Over 40 lakh farmers and nearly 4 lakh mill workers depend on it for their livelihoods. Once people start using jute products, the industry will become competitive and sustainable again,” says Bose.
The pandal has been richly decorated with traditional artworks including Madhubani paintings adorning the walls. Innovative murals in betel nut skins render an element of Bengali authenticity to the celebrations.
On all four sides of the pandal are images that narrate the episode of Ram’s Akal Bodhan to Goddess Durga from the Hindu epic “Ramayana”.
The 45-feet gate of the pandal is in the form of a tribal woman holding a ‘diya’ in her hands, symbolic of the way of life in Purulia.
The puja celebrations will also recreate mini-Kolkata with food and festivity galore.
Popular performing traditions from Bengal such as Baul, Chou, Gambhira, Yatra, and Kavigaan will be part of the cultural programme, besides specialised artisans in ‘Dokra’ and ‘Poktkatha’ performing live on the occasion.
“It is an attempt to search for the roots of dying traditional artforms from Bengal. We have a rich cultural history which must be promoted and passed to younger generations. Through this year’s theme we want people to look back at our simple and harmonious traditions,” says Bose.
Recent Uri attacks will also find a special space in the celebrations, where the members of the committee will be paying homage to the jawans who lost their lives in the attack.
“Uri attack has been a big incident and we cannot ignore it. Durga Puja is in itself a symbol of the victory of good over evil. It is about destroying the devil and the same goes for terrorism too,” says Bose.