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Artists carve out silver lining at pandals

Cuttack, Sept. 13: Not fancy lights and idols — the backdrop has to make a statement. Be it with silver jewellery and intricate designs.

And the Kathagada Sahi puja committee has done just that. The committee, which has been organising Durga Puja for 52 years, plans to spend about Rs 90 lakh on 315kg silver filigree backdrop, jewellery and weapons in its pandal this year.

“In 2005, during the golden jubilee celebrations, we started with 40kg of silver filigree jewellery and weapons of the goddess. This year, we are ready with a chandi medha (silver filigree backdrop) for the goddess made entirely of silver,” said Laxmidhar Pradhan, the president of the committee.

This would be the city’s 10th chandi medha, bringing it on a par with elite group of committees that have been decorating their pandals with filigree works.

The style was introduced at the Choudhury Bazaar puja pandal with a 250kg chandi medha in 1956. But then, it had no parallel in the country, as far as tarakashi (silver filigree) was concerned.

Following suit, Sheikh Bazaar puja mandap installed a 350kg Chandi Medha in 1991.

The tough competition to notch the “best show” has prompted other puja committees to get filigree work done in their mandaps.

Chandini Chowk, Sheikh Bazaar, Alisha Bazaar, Chauliaganj, Badambadi, Ranihat, Haripur-Dolamundai and Balu Bazaar-Binod Behari puja committees are vouching for the filigree work.

In 2004, Ranihat puja committee joined the elite group with a 483kg of silver filigree backdrop, jewellery and weaponry. In the following year, Haripur-Dolamundai puja committee superseded Ranihat when it installed 500kg silver filigree.

In 2006, the Sheikh Bazaar committee remodelled a new backdrop using 450kg of silver. In the same year, members of Kathagada Sahi decided to enter the prized pandal decoration circuit.

“A team of artisans, led by Pravat Kumar Dey had created the chandi medha with 260 kg silver at a cost of Rs 75 lakh,” said Biranchi Narayan Maharana, the secretary of Kathagada Sahi Puja Committee.

The introduction of the Sharadiya Utsav tradition in the city dates back to the visit of Saint Chaitanya in 16th century when the consecration of the idol of Durga by using the mask pattern was conducted in his presence at Binod Behari Devi Mandap.

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