2020 has been a year of disruption! Not in a good manner, of course. The pandemic caused by Covid-19 has stand-stilled the normalcy in the lives of all. And thew worse that all of us can contemplate is how long we can sustain being in a cage. The majority have dropped their ideas to carry out celebrations of their festivities amid fear of catching the virus; but Kolkata Puja Pandals continue to make a statement defying the ‘ongoing pandemic gloom’ by bringing out thematic puja pandals spreading unique messages, through portraying ongoing issues of the country connected with the pervasive situation.
With compliance to all the Covid-19 measures, the Kolkata Puja pandals have welcomed Mother Goddess Durga with her new spirit and fervour of defeating the ‘Coronasura’ instead of the usual ‘Mahishasura’. The auspicious occasion of Durga Puja holds a symbolic meaning amongst Bengalis where the coming of Durga Mata signifies the yearly visit of The Daughter, to her ancestral home along with her offsprings, celebrating her in the figure of slashing the evil having accumulated all year long, through the killing of ‘Mahishasura’.
But the concept of ‘Coronasura’ came into existence when one among the eighty ‘Kumartuli’ artisans came out to be positive with the virus after getting himself tested. “Their belief that Maa Durga will defeat the Coronavirus just like she ends the embodiment of evil-‘Mahishasura’ made them spread a different kind of message”, said one of the artisans. Prior to the Durga Puja idol-making many came out with requests to the ‘Kumartuli’ artisans to make some changes this year through the model of ‘Coronasura’, conveyed the artisans when asked why they put up with such an ‘unique’ idea.
“Some outstanding examples would include Barisha Club (located in the southern neighbourhood of Kolkata) which has decided to bring forth the plight of the migrant labourers who walked miles defying all challenges during the peak of the lockdown period,” said a visitor. “They have replaced the traditional image of the goddess with that of a migrant mother with a son in her arm and three more children following her.” The woman, with a third eye on her forehead, turns her head towards the viewer while walking towards a halo with 10 arms; the children can be identified by the animal mount in their hands.
The ‘Covid-19’ virus is being used as the theme of many pandals, as the issue has been the dominant character circulating in the media all throughout the year in a drive to spread awareness among the visitors, and also to heighten up their spirits through the glory of Durga Puja. The figure of a ‘Coronasura’ might seem unusual and absolutely new but the Puja pandal of Kolkata have always been known to adopt striking themes in an effort to spread knowledge and awareness. This year is no different and cannot dampen the essence of the celebrations which continue incessantly!
Written by- Souravi Das