Posted22 September 2011, by Swati Chandra, The Times of India (Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd),
VARANASI: Get yourself ready for a glimpse of contemporary issues like global warming, pollution, terrorism, price rise, corruption and even the decreasing number of lions in the forthcoming festival of Navratra. The lavish visual spectacles displayed on the tableaux that adds up to colourful aura of festivity will go issue-specific too.
“The Town Hall puja pandal will be depicting the arrival of the Ganga on Earth and Goddess Durga will release the Ganga from devil Mahishasur who is imitating the Tehri Dam,” says artist Gopal Chandra Dey at his Bengali Tola situated workshop. According to Dey, the decreasing number of lions is also a cause of concern for the present world and the whole family of artists of Varanasi have decided to symbolise lion more alive. Global warming is very beautifully depicted by artist Puluck Chand Mukherjee in the tableaux for Dher Mal Gali, Mirghat. “The problem of global warming imitated by devils will get buried by the Goddess into a volcano,” says Puluck. Many artists have also used electric lights on devil’s horns to relate it to useless and harmful use of science and technology.
In yet another tableaux theme called Tridev getting ready for mini stadium Shivpur, the backdrop of the pageant is set with the problem of corruption, price rise and terrorism and Lord Shiva will be demolishing the three evils.
“To impress kids, few idols will depict comic pattern too,” informed Puluck. Special attention has been given to devils and demons. According to Sushant Kumar Pal, whose family has been making idols for six generations, Mahishasur signifies evil and the focus has been put on the depiction and imitation of the devil with ever-rising threat of corruption and technology.
“Standing a bit away from the routine decorations, the whole artist community of the town hopes that the enactment on the tableaux will serve the religious as well as moral dimensions,” believes kaarigar (artisan) Badri.
With only five days left to Navratra, the ‘kaarigars’ (artisans) at various spots are also busy giving a final touch to ornamental decorations and dressing of idols of Durga and other gods and goddesses.
Artist Puluck opined that the real work of art begins now when the deity is clad in saree and jewellery. Ranging from terracota, art Bangla, solar Bangla, pearls, white beads to gold work, all add to the lavish decorations that get displayed in a week’s time.
“Like the talented artists, the raw material used in the decoration of the idols also come from Bengal,” informed Narendra, organiser of a puja pandal in Jaitpura. The range of these accessories, including sarees, starts from Rs 1,000 to Rs 8,000. According to Gopal Chandra Dey, the goddess is specially clad with Banarasi saree brought from Lohta, Chowk and Madanpura while the other deities are dressed in satin clothes. Jewellery and weapons of the deity are theme specific this time. The Bengali idol of the deity at various places will get clad in cream saree with red border and the accessories will include ‘Shakhapola'(red and while Bengali bangles) and silver coloured weapons.
The jute idol of the Goddess which will get displayed at Jaitpura is all set to get decorated with ‘terracota art’. “The entire base of this idol is made of jute and the idol will not get coloured but decorated with terracota art (which is prepared by burning the clay) and expensive Banarasi saree,” says Gopal Da. As the authorities have advised the artists to go environment friendly from this year to save the Ganga from pollution, artists have used natural colours, mixed with ‘ararot’ and biodegradable base has been used, adds Pal.