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Hotel haven for terracotta Devi

It was originally destined to go to Delhi’s Heritage Park. Midway, however, the destination changed. The idol and pandal of Barisha Srishti club, which created a splash last Durga Puja, will now be housed in a leading city hotel.

After the initial uncertainty over preservation of the terracotta pandal and image, the club officials have finalised arrangements with the hotel. “Final talks have been held with ITC Sonar Bangla and the idol of Durga and the pandal will be installed there soon,” said Animesh Chakraborty, vice-president of Barisha Srishti Club.

The Behala club won 12 awards for its pandal, its idol and for the manner in which the puja was conducted. These included The Telegraph True Spirit and the Anandabazar Patrika-National Insurance felicitations.

A piece of “supreme artwork”, the nine-and-a-half-ft idol and the pandal — 30 ft high, with a radius of 25 ft — were skilfully crafted by residents of Panchmora village in Bankura. It took four months — from June to September — to create one of the top draws of Durga Puja 2003.

“We travelled extensively in Bankura and chose the theme,” Chakraborty recounted. Artist Bhabatosh Sutar worked with the terracotta artists from Panchmora to complete the project.

On Sashthi, a team from the Delhi tourism department visited the Srishti pandal and offered to preserve the image at Heritage Park. “We held talks with them and were given a verbal assurance that the pandal and the idol would be taken to Delhi. However, things did not move after that,” one of the office-bearers of the club said.

According to the south Calcutta club authorities, some eminent local artists also requested them to ensure that the idol stay in the city. “ITC officials visited our pandal and offered to take it. They have also agreed to pay the installation charges,” the club official said.

Artist Suvaprasanna played a leading role in finding the work of art its new address. “As a judge, I had to visit various Puja pandals. The work at Barisha Srishti surpassed craft and was transformed into a beautiful art form. It is very difficult to create such work,” he said. “I was very excited when I saw it and thought it would be wrong to immerse it,” he added.

After talks with Delhi hit a dead-end, the artist decided to petition some patrons. “After all, such forms of art should be preserved, but the government has no infrastructure to do so… I requested the ITC top brass to visit the pandal,” said Suvaprasanna.

The rest will now go into Durga Puja lore. The two-tier pandal is undergoing repairs for though the seven tall terracotta horses are intact, the 36 smaller ones have been damaged. “We are adding some design elements before shifting it to the hotel,” said club officials.

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