Tablet by tablet, strip by strip, Assam-based artist Sanjib Basak burnt the midnight oil for nearly 60 days to create a glorious idol of Goddess Durga, using more than 30,000 capsules and syringes.
Despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic taking away the sheen of Durga puja festivities, the annual festival is still being celebrated with pomp and show in parts of Assam. With theme pujas being integral to the festival, several artisans this year have given a coronavirus twist to Durga idols to increase awareness among the masses.
However, for Basak, who has been making Goddess Durga idols for the past eight years using waste materials like used match sticks and wires, this year’s idol could not be complete without merging the pandemic with the festival.
“Every year I try to come up with new ideas to make the idol. This year, I noticed that during the lockdown, a lot of people were standing in long queues to buy medicines. However, many shops did not have enough stock and people had to go from one shop to another to buy the desired medicine,” he told the indianexpress.com.
Moreover, Basak, who works with the Disaster Management Department in Dhubri, often had to visit drug stores to procure medicines as a part of his Covid-19 duty. During his visits, he observed that stores used to throw away its stock of expired medicines. “Often, shopkeepers give expired medicines back to the company. But, this time, because of the lockdown, they could not do so. Hence, there was a lot of waste stock,” he added.
That was when it dawned upon him to utilise the expired tablets, capsules and syringes from medical stores to create a Durga idol. Without further ado, Basak got down to work after the second lockdown was implemented. “This was my way to do something towards the social aspect of it. If we can use the wasted part, then why not.”
“During Covid-19, a lot of importance is being given to medicines and vaccination and as I wanted to make a unique Durga idol. That is when I came up with the idea of using expired medicines,” he said.
An arts graduate, Basak is no professional idol maker and started trying his hand in various art forms as a hobby whenever he got spare time. However, the 37-year-old has received several awards for his creative Durga idols in the past eight years.
In 2019, Basak’s name was added in the Assam Book of Records for making an idol of Goddess Durga using waste electrical wires weighing 166 kg. Prior to this, he was also awarded for making a 12-feet idol using matchsticks.
While creating idols with waste materials is nothing new, Basak said he came up with the idea since his department had been focusing on waste management in the past couple of years. “Often there are discussions on how to reduce waste. So, my thought-process was inclined towards that and I was able to come up with this,” he said.