| Artisans engrossed in making the silver filigree for the Firingi Bazar Durga Puja. Picture by Badrika Nath Das |
Cuttack, Oct. 8: The Firingi Bazar Puja Committee has spent nearly Rs 1 crore on silver filigree backdrop — locally called chandi medha — for its Durga idol this year.
“Around 200kg of silver was used to mould the chandi medha for the Goddess,” said master artisan Naba Kishore Pal of Tulasipur-Matha Sahi. He led an eight-member team that completed the intricate tarkashi (silver filigree) works in 18 months.
“Nearly 50kg of silver has been used for a crown, jewels and weapons for the Goddess since 2010,” said Pal, who was earlier associated with making silver filigrees for Puja committees at Badambadi, Sikharpur, Tulasipur and Nayasarak.
Keen competition over putting the best show has apparently pushed over a dozen Puja committees to embrace the giant filigree backdrops made entirely of silver in the past decade.
But, general secretary of the Firingi Bazar Puja Committee Naresh Kumar Sahu said: “It’s not just about competition. It’s also about promoting the exquisite art form of tarkashi.”
He said the Puja committee, with a 55-year-old tradition of worshipping deities during Dussehra, had switched over from Hara-Parvati idols to Goddess Durga in 2008. The new chandi medha will be inaugurated tomorrow.
“Though Cuttack is famous for silver filigree, lack of resources and work has been forcing traditional craftsmen to seek other jobs,” Sahu said.
However, the increasing number of silver filigrees has provided periodical work for some. “It ensures almost round-the-year work. A craftsman takes home Rs 350 every day till completion of a work order,” said a silver filigree artisan, who was associated with making of chandi medhas for four Puja committees.
Till last year, 16 Puja mandaps had sported chandi medhas weighing between 250kg and 500kg. With the filigree coming up at Firingi Bazar, this time the number has gone up to 17.
The style was introduced at the Choudhury Bazar Puja mandap with a 250kg chandi medha in 1956. But then, it had no parallel in the country, so far tarkashi was concerned.
The Sheikh Bazar Puja Committee first picked up the unique style with a 350kg chandi medha in 1991. In 2004, the Ranihat Puja Committee joined the elite group with a 483kg silver filigree backdrop, jewells and weapons. The following year, the Haripur-Dolamundai Puja Committee installed a 500kg silver filigree backdrop.
In 2006, the Sheikh Bazar committee remodelled a new backdrop using 450kg of silver. In the same year, members of the Kathagada Puja Committee decided to enter the circuit.
Puja committees at Chandni Chowk, Alisha Bazar, Chauliaganj, Badambadi, Machua Bazar, Balu Bazar, Tulasipur, Kazi Bazar and Nayasarak had also commissioned such giant silver filigree backdrops subsequently.
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