Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee, who has a penchant for the fine arts, was seen giving final touches to the eyes of Goddess Durga as she painted them at the Chetla Agrani Puja in Kolkata on the occasion of Mahalaya, which was celebrated on September 25.
Mahalaya, it is known, is an important occasion in the days leading up to Durga Puja, and the Bengali community believes it marks the moment Goddess Durga begins her journey to Earth, from her celestial abode in Mount Kailash.
There is usually a lot of last-minute flurry to give finishing touches to the idols of Durga that are sculpted all around the world and decorated ahead of time for Durga Puja festivities.
Traditionally, the clay sculptures of Durga and all her children — Lords Ganesh and Kartik and Goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswati — along with her mount lion and Mahishasura are placed under one structure, which is known as ‘ek-chala’, meaning ‘one cover’, and during immersion, the entire structure is mounted on a vehicle and taken to a water body.
The most important and exciting aspect of sculpting the Goddess is decorating her eyes. There is a special ritual associated with it, called ‘Chokkhu Daan’ — ‘chokkhu’ refers to ‘eyes’ and ‘daan’ means ‘offering’. It literally means offering eyes to the idol of Goddess Durga, with which she will be able to see all her devotees and understand their pain and piety.
On the day of Mahalaya, artisans carry out this ritual, but only the most skilled of them are allowed to do the Chokkhu Daan, because the eyes are the most prominent and striking feature of the Goddess and they have to look faultless.
This is what the West Bengal CM was photographed doing on the auspicious occasion of Mahalaya yesterday. She was photographed painting the third eye of the Goddess, which is located on the forehead.