As Devipaksha begins, know how Durga Idol is made and the rituals followed in the process.


New Delhi: It is said that Goddess Durga was created from the combined divine energies of the Holy Trinity – Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma – to eliminate the demon, Mahishasura, who had the divine blessing that he could not be killed by one ” man “or a” God “.

The goddess ‘dashabhuja (10-armed)’ was given weapons such as Chakra, Shankha, Trishula, Gada, Bow, Arrow, Sword, Shield and Bell by the many gods so that she could face the buffalo demon and save the universe of its atrocities.

Durga completed the task for which she was created, recording the victory of good over evil.

The annual Durga Puja festival is the commemoration of this victory and a celebration of the belief that the Goddess (good) will continue to save the Earth from Mahishasura (evil).

Devipaksha (the bright lunar fortnight of the month of Sharad) began on Thursday, a day after Mahalaya, and Durga is believed to have already arrived on her annual trip to Earth, her “parental home”.

While the festival is celebrated at this time of year, preparations begin long before that.

The making of the idols of Durga is usually the most important moment in the life of the clay sculptors engaged in the work, which begins months in advance – following all the rites, rituals and protocols.

While Durga Puja was once a simple home affair, it took the form of a festival between the 16th and 17th centuries. And the art and process of making idols, it is said, has since remained largely unchanged.

The making of the idol of Durga

Devi Durga, riding a lion and attacking the Mahishasura, with his children Ganesh, Kartik, Lakshmi and Saraswati giving him company – each Durga Puja pandal portrays this scene, in their own way.

As a result, sculptors should make at least these seven figures, even for a basic small-scale puja.

In Bengal, where Durga Puja is the biggest festival, the positioning of the idols was once “ek-chala”, which meant that the seven figures were placed under a single bamboo and wooden arch. Multiple arches are now in use in most places, and puja organizers decide on positioning based on their preferences or the specific theme chosen for the year.

The process of making an idol usually begins with “Pata Puja”, the day of Rath Yatra which usually takes place around July. ‘Pata’ is the wooden frame that forms the basis of the idols.

In some places this puja is also held on Janamshtami, another auspicious day.

In West Bengal, Kumortuli in the capital Kolkata is a major idol-making hub.

In the first step of making idols, sculptors create the bamboo frame for the seven figures – Durga, the lion, Mahishasura, Saraswati, Lakshmi, Ganesh and Kartik. In addition, they must make a swan for Saraswati, an owl which is the “vaahan” of Lakshmi, a mouse for Ganesha and the peacock “vaahan” of Kartik.

This skeletal frame is then filled with hay, which ensures that the idols don’t get too heavy.

Then comes the time to use clay – a job that requires a lot of skill and following rules and protocols.

Traditionally, seven types of clay were mixed to form the final paste with which idols were made.

A Durga Puja with an ‘ek-chala’ positioning | Photo: Getty

Importance of the floor of a prostitute’s house

One school of thought believes that Durga is to be worshiped with the “Navkanyas”, representing nine classes of women. They are: a ‘nati’, who is a dancer or actress), a ‘vashya’ or prostitute, ‘rajaki’ or laundress, a ‘Brahmani (Brahmin girl)’, a ‘shudra’, and a ‘gopala’ or milkmaid.

This could be a reason why the soil of a prostitute’s house is mixed with the clay which is used to make the idol of Durga.

In his book ‘In the name of the goddess’, Tapati Guha-Thakurta writes: the soil and the contaminated locality from which it is taken.

She adds: “[A] a month before the Pujas, sex workers sell land to clay modellers at prices ranging from 10 to 20 rupees a bag.

Nowadays shops selling puja related items keep the different types of floors for the use of sculptors.

Many believe that the soil collected from the threshold of a prostitute’s house is “pure” because people who visit such places indulging in carnal desires leave all virtues behind on the doorstep. The soil, it is believed, becomes blessed by imbibing the virtues of these people.

The final clay mixture

The clay of the prostitute’s house is mixed with that of a river, usually the Ganges in the case of Bengal, to make the final paste.

The hay-filled frame receives a layer of thick sticky clay that helps sculptors shape the figures. Once it dries another coat is applied and the body is sculpted.

Quoting Biswajit Pal, a veteran sculptor from Krishnanagar in West Bengal, a Sahapedia article said that artists preferred a special type of clay – a very smooth and soft type – to make the face, hands and other intricate parts. idols.

According to the article, the jute fibers are kneaded into the clay to make the face and hands “strong but supple”.

For the final layer, a special plasticine is used.

After the clay dries, the figures would be covered with white chalk paint and tamarind seed gum.

The mixture forms the binding of the different colors in which they are painted, according to Guha-Thakurta’s book.

Then it’s time to add hair, clothing, adornments, and weapons.

“The process culminates in the painting of the eyes of the central figure of Durga, marking the symbolism of the icon’s life – a ritual [called Chokkhodaan] which is played most effectively in the morning of Mahalaya, ”writes Guha-Thakurta.

According to Pal, the overall staging of the idols is incomplete without the obligatory placement of Shiva above Durga’s head, either as a character or as a simple photograph. “… you cannot worship Durga without Shiva.”

Durga Puja 2021: As Devipaksha begins, know how Durga Idol is made and the rituals followed during the process
Artist puts the finishing touches on an idol of Goddess Durga in Mahalaya (October 6, 2021), ahead of the Durga Puja festival in Ahmedabad | Photo: AFP

Ready for the festival

Once the figurines are all ready, the idols are taken to the pandals and set up at their assigned locations, usually at Mahapanchami or Mahashasthi, i.e. on the fifth or sixth day of Devipaksha.

It is the day of ‘praan pratishtha’ in idols, which then turn into gods from simple clay figures. The priests doing the puja place in front of the idol a brass container symbolic of the energy of the Mother Goddess.

Mantras are chanted, hymns are recited, conch shells are blown, bells are ringing and lamps are lit to declare the festival open.

After five days of pujas and celebrations, Durga kills the Mahishasura before returning to Shiva’s abode, bidding farewell to Earth for another year.

Durga Puja 2021 Dates

Mahashasthi – October 11, 2021

Mahasaptami – October 12, 2021

Mahaashtami – October 13, 2021

Mahanavami – October 14, 2021

Vijaya Dashami – October 15, 2021

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