| An artisan works at the Harisabha Durga Puja pandal in Jorhat |
Jorhat, Oct. 4: The Harisabha Durga Puja, known for its strict adherence to the rites of worship and unassuming and tastefully decorated mandaps, has deviated from the norm in its centenary celebration here this year.
For the first time in its 100-year history, the centenary celebration committee has allowed the decoration of the pandal with rows of masks, an integral part of Xattriya culture.
Jyotirmoy Das, the joint secretary of the Harisabha Durga Puja centenary celebration committee, however, said the purpose was not to focus on Xattriya culture but to focus on mask-making as an art.
“Mask-making is an art and could be a money-spinning cottage industry. In many xatras, (Vaishnavite monasteries), there are a number of people who have mastered the art and are engaged in making masks. But there are many who have learnt the art in workshops from time to time. It is to highlight these small artisans that the masks made in the workshops have been brought and used to decorate the interior,” he said.
Asifur Rahman of Cinnamara here, who is known for his exquisite handmade papercraft and jewellery, is in charge of the decorations.
Rahman said hundreds of such masks had been procured from the different workshops and they were still pouring in. “We will put up as many as possible,” he said.
“We have picked Durga Puja to propagate this art form to ensure maximum exposure,” Das said.
Another joint secretary, Jayanta Saha, spoke of the eco-friendly material being used in the décor.
“From the gateway, which is in the form of a huge dola (palanquin) made of varnished bamboo and cane, to the two female figures on either side, made of clay and wearing the traditional attire of a Bengali and Assamese and the jute fabric mountain on which a clay statue of Shiva is placed, everything is made of natural materials,” he said.
The pandal will be studded with hundreds of handmade paper-crafted roses.
The joint secretaries added that the celebrations this time would be a grand affair starting from the fifth day (Panchami).
“Filmmaker Jahnu Baruah has consented to inaugurate the festivities that day and from Sashti, the idol will be unveiled and rituals will start in right earnest,” Das said.
The Jorhat Puja Mandir Durga Puja, popularly known as the Jorhat Theatre Hall Durga Puja, is also celebrating its centenary this year.
There will also be a slew of programmes that include felicitation of seniors, who have been associated with the temple, on October 10.