In today’s Calcutta, even the Devi finds it tough to protect herself.
Goddess Durga, also referred to as Shakti, fell victim to snatching at a north Calcutta pandal hours before her idol (picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya) was to be immersed on Thursday.
Around 6am, organisers of Thanthania Sarbojanin Durgotsav Samiti, a 77-year-old puja in Nabin Kundu Lane off Amherst Street, noticed that the Devi’s gold nose ring and a gold necklace worth around Rs 50,000 were missing.
Why had they not sought protection, in the form of police or private guards, for the Devi? “We had never felt the need in the past 77 years,” said Tarak Nandi, working president of the puja organising committee.
But the times they are a changin’. “When ornaments can get stolen from living deities in temples, why should we even hope that thieves will desist from stealing from a lifeless idol after the ritual immersion has taken place on Dashami?” wondered veteran purohit Amal Chatterjee.
The Nabin Kundu Lane pandal was guarded by the puja committee members. “We took turns to guard the pandal. Last night we were at the pandal till 3am. The thieves seem to have struck between 3am and 6am,” said Tarak Nandi, working president of the organising committee.
Sources in the Amherst Street police station said the only two pieces of original gold on the goddess was stolen; the rest was all costume jewellery and gold-plated silver ornaments. “The thief must have been aware of that and also when the pandal would be unguarded,” said an officer. According to the rulebook, if a puja uses original gold ornaments, it should either engage private security or alert the local police. “We had not been informed,” said deputy commissioner (north) Gaurav Sharma.
Most puja committees now depend on guards on hire. From Maddox Square Durgotsav Committee where traditional gold ornaments are used to the Sreebhumi Sporting Club idol flaunting 22-carat gold jewellery worth crores.