The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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New silver and Burma teak throne for Kali

The 148-year-old throne of the Kali image at the Dakshineswar temple — before which both Ramakrishna and Vivekananda meditated for hours — will be replaced by a new one on Saturday.

The new 10-foot-high throne will replace the old wooden structure encased in silver. Trustees had decided to replace it with a new one of similar size and design when, 10 years ago, it was discovered that the structure had become weak after years of daily puja and other rituals. A reputed jewellery company, which was given the charge of making the new throne, took more than three years to complete it.

Kusal Chowdhury, secretary, Dakshineswar Kali Temple and Debottar Estate, said: “Devotees will witnesses a historic moment tomorrow. The process of replacing the throne will be accompanied by day-long rituals.” Among those expected to witness the change are Union tourism and culture minister Jagmohan, minister of state for northeast development Tapan Sikdar and the general secretary of Ramakrishna Mission and Math, Swami Smaranananda. A number of state ministers have been invited.

The temple authorities have decided to put on display the original throne in the temple.

According to Chowdhury, the throne was first installed in 1855, when Rani Rashmoni established the temple. Ten years ago, trustees had detected that the wood inside the silver casing had started to rot and the 12 wooden columns were feeble. Since then, the temple authorities had used external support to prop it up.

But even after the decision to replace it was taken, seven long years passed for the temple authorities to get the necessary clearance. Soon after noticing the cracks, the trustees held a meeting on July 23, 1993, and adopted a resolution to change the throne. Then, board of trustees’ chairman Tapas Banerjee, who was appointed by Calcutta High Court as special officer, was approached.

Based on an appeal by the trustees, Justice Umesh Chandra Banerjee of the high court directed that the work start on September 20, 1993. Artisans were finally engaged in 2000 to rebuild the throne.

“From the beginning, we gave priority to two points. We told the agency making the new throne that it must be of the same size and design as the original. The second point was that silver must be the key material,” Chowdhury said.

The artisans took three years to make the new throne, as they meticulously maintained the design and detailing of the original one. “All the 12 columns are encased in silver. We have used Burma teak for the frame on top. So, it is expected to last another century without any problem,” the secretary added.

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