Taking devotion to dizzying heights

Published: 23rd October 2012 09:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd October 2012 09:45 AM   |  A+A-

It’s ironic. Kolkata, the place to be for Dasara celebrations, is playing host to the smallest idol of the Goddess in the world. It measures just about an inch! On the other hand, Hyderabad, which is obsessed with size, has once again come up with, perhaps, the tallest idol of the Goddess just like last year. 42 ft to be exact. It would have been even taller had the municipal authorities given the go ahead!

The imposing idol stands at the Television Cafe near Chaderghat.

The organiser, Navadurga Utsava Committee, had wanted to increase its height to around 60 ft. But why? “Normally, even Bengalis do not prefer their idols to be taller than 10 ft. We are 16 years old in Hyderabad and last year, we wanted to depict the glory of the Goddess through a massive idol like no one has ever seen before and give a new experience to devotees. I am not aware of any other idol in the country which is taller,” said Gulab Srinivas, president, Navadurga Utsava Committee. The idol is unique not only for its height but also its make.

It was sculpted on an iron frame with wheels and after the festival on Oct 25th, it would be pulled by devotees to the Tank Bund for immersion in Hussainsagar.

The theme of the idol for the year is Panchamukhi Durga Matha and Chhatrapati Shivaji could be seen receiving a sword from Her. The organisers claim a footfall of over one lakh devotees during the Navratri celebrations.

The committee has been organising Durga Puja at Chaderghat for the past 16 years. According to Srinivas, it cost them around Rs 3 lakh and 25 artisans from Kolkata had to work round-the-clock for 40 days to make the idol.

In Kolkata, a young artist from Assam, Sujit Das, is going around the various pandals in the city to display his miniature Goddess. Coming back to the twin cities, another pandal at Koti Andhra Bank junction too has a massive idol. But the organisers there are a bit unhappy that they had to reduce the height of the idol this time.

The Durga Matha Navratri Mahotsav Samithi, a group of footpath vendors and hawkers, had to in fact reduce the size of the idol by around 4 ft. “Last year, our idol was 42 ft tall, but this year because of restrictions imposed by municipal corporation and the electricity board, we had to bring down the height to 38 ft,” explained J Venkatesh of the committee. He said it took 40 artisans from Kolkata to work day and night to sculpt the Bhadrakali idol.

Though this time the height factor has either remained constant or reduced, over the years, the organisers in the city have been increasing it in an attempt to emulate the Ganesh celebrations in the city. “In 2009, we erected an 18 ft tall Navadurga Matha, and increased the height to 23 ft in 2010 with the idol of Durga Matha riding a chariot.

Last year, we further increased the height to 42 ft with the idol of Durga with Lakhsmi and Saraswathi on both sides and Bajrang Bali at the back. But this year we were forced to reduce the height of Bhadrakali Durga to 38 ft,” said Venkatesh. Admitting the same, Srinivas at Chaderghat said, “in the first 14 years, we had our idols’ height anywhere between 18-20 ft. Having erected a 42 ft tall idol for the second year now, it does not seem like we can increase the height any further.”


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