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Kolkata's Barisha Club to worship 'migrant mother' as Goddess Durga


KOLKATA: An idol of a migrant mother with a child in her arms and three children trailing her will be worshipped as Goddess Durga in a south Kolkata puja pandal.

The mother in a pale sari, walking with a shirt-less toddler in her arms, her two daughters -- one with a baby owl in the crook of her arms and the other caressing a duck -- and the fourth sibling with the head of an elephant, will remind the heart-wrenching sight of thousands of migrants walking along the highways with their children without food and water. 

Many found the concept of Barisha Club has a political narrative as Bengal CM was one of those who strongly opposed Modi’s lockdown announcement four hours before it was implemented across the country.

"Durga Puja is more than a religious event. It marks the annual homecoming of the daughter and is a celebration of womanhood and motherhood. Here, the goddess is the mother who braved the scorching heat, hunger, and poverty. She is looking for food, water, and some relief for her children. The goddess will portray the plight of homecoming daughters, women and mothers during the lockdown," said artist Rintu Das, a graduate from the Government College of Art and Craft.   

There is no weapon on the hands of the goddess and no asura beneath her feet. She has baby Lord Kartick in one arm and an empty bag in the other hand. Two daughters trailing her are Goddess Saraswati and Goddess Lakshmi.

The frame displays the mother and her four children walking towards a small and traditional image of Durga with 10 hands inside a halo looking for relief. The hunger is the demon here, said the artist.

"During the lockdown, I was touched by the visual plight of migrants on TV and reports published in newspapers. They were returning home on foot, some of them dying on the road and railway tracks. I felt the poor mothers, who were carrying their children, should be worshipped as our goddess this year," said Das, who has been working with the club for the third consecutive year.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurated the puja pandal on Friday but the final touches are yet to be given. The organisers said the pandal would be thrown open for visitors from October 20.     

Debaprosad Bose, the founder member of the club and one of the organisers, said the budget is one fourth this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"While visiting the idol, the CM took out her cellphone and clicked a few photos. While leaving, one of our organiser asked for her reaction and she said the concept touched her and that was why she took photographs. She also told the organiser that she would keep the photo of the idol in her room," said Bose.