The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Creator of the Devi’s domain
Debasish Bose

The large squarish plot dotted with trees in a narrow alley off Kumartuli is strewn with junk — bamboo poles, wooden planks and half-baked figurines. In the quiet, middle-class para, a Rajasthani temple of plywood and plaster of Paris is blooming under the watchful eyes of Debasish Bose.

“The goddess’ image will look as if it has been carved out of a single slab of stone, as they have in Rajasthan, complete with the kasthipathar effect. Durga’s entourage will be etched just beneath her pedestal in miniature. Images of Radha-Krishna and a Shiva linga will flank the goddess on either side. A bright-hued chandowa will hang above,” elucidates Bose, a commercial artist by profession.

A raised podium, called the prabachan mancha, will be constructed in front of the temple. Beside it, a tank will be dug up on which pandal-hoppers will be able to catch the Devi’s reflection. All this, in true Rajasthani style. Having shouted out a few instructions to the 50-odd workers scattered under the massive 120 sq ft wooden structure, Bose hurriedly crosses a few kilometres to the Laha Colony ground, tucked away in a corner of two meandering lanes.

At Sangha Tirtha, the man who has proved his mettle constructing puja pandals for probashi Bangalis in Mumbai, has woven his imagination on astrology with a rustic touch. Here, logs of coconut trees, ferried from Krishnagar, are dumped underneath a makeshift camp. And on the weathered bark of the trees, two Government Art College students have chiselled out the 12 zodiac signs.

The exquisite figurines will be highlighted with a shade a brown. A large, roundish horoscope will greet visitors at the entrance to the pandal, with the day’s predictions inscribed on the chart, according to the tithi. Pata figures, to be drawn by artistes from Nadia district, will run along the horoscope panels. Above, a huge clock of cane and bamboo will encompass the two walls.

“The chura and the two longish walls of the rectangular pandal will be canopied with green coconut leaves to give the look of a hut with a thatched roof. Durga and her entourage will stand on a raised platform, which the viewers will circumnavigate. The oval back wall will showcase 108 kalabou figures.

“The images will be cast in plaster of Paris, in the likeness of the Adyapith goddess, and given a terracotta feel. To accentuate the rural effect, lanterns will light up the pathway,” says Bose, who has a garment boutique, is into interior decoration and designs ramps for fashion shows.

But under the harsh midday sun, as the pace picks up, this quiet north Calcutta puja para is where Bose seems to belong.

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