In a bid to highlight the brave struggles of COVID-19 frontline warriors, a popular Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata has replaced the traditional idol of Mahishasura with that of ‘Coronasura’. The Youth Association of Mohammad Ali Park — for its 52nd Durga Puja celebrations — has used idols of police and doctors in masks, so as to make an important statement of staying safe in the pandemic.
Speaking with indianexpress.com, Ashok Ojha of Md Ali Park Durga Puja, said: “By replacing asura’s idol with that of a ‘corona demon’, we pray that the Goddess slays the virus, in the way that she slayed Mahishasura. So, it is not Mahishasura but Coronasura this year. Our purpose is to make people aware of the importance of wearing masks and maintaining social distancing norms.”
The idol maker has placed beautiful sculptures of doctors, nurses, police officers and common people with their masks on — so as to display everyone’s plight during the pandemic.
The organisers have already put up a barricade at a distance of 10 metres from the main open-air pandal.
“Keeping all the directives in mind, we had already kept the pandal open from three sides, and now with the High Court’s order, we have put up ‘no entry’ signs to keep people away from entering the premises,” Ojha added.
One of the most popular Durga Puja venues, Md Ali Park has been hit by the pandemic. Their budget this year has reduced by at least 75 per cent; from a budget of Rs 50-60 lakh, they have come down to Rs 15 lakh. Additionally, for the first time in 52 years, organisers here have placed a single-platform idol.
Surendra Kr Sharma, the General Secretary of Md. Ali Park Durga Puja, said: “Artisan Kush Bera, along with his two children, had started working on this idol around June 2020. The 12-feet-long idol is made of and decorated with clay. No other decorative pieces have been used. He had pricked pins on Mahishasura and covered it with clay so that the transformation happens. Just like every single person, we also think Maa Durga will end the deadly pandemic.”
This famous puja had started in 1969 from Tara Chand Dutta Street, but owing to its ascending popularity, it was moved to Md Ali Park. Last year, the arrangements were further moved for safety reasons and is now organised at the Fire Brigade Ground.
Last year, there was a subsidence as a result of which, cracks developed in the walls of an underground British-era reservoir. After inspection by civic officials, fire personnel and experts from Jadavpur University, it was decided to shift the puja for safety purposes.
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