A puja at Shyambazar has sought to highlight motherhood with a difference, choosing surrogacy and its many aspects as their theme.
Motherhood remained an unfulfilled dream for many till assisted reproductive treatment (ART) stepped in, and of the various methods that can help a couple become parents, surrogacy is no doubt the most controversial. India had been one of the few countries that allowed “hiring of wombs” till a 2022 law banned commercial surrogacy. At present, only married women aged 25 to 35 and with a child of their own can offer to become surrogates, and that too only for married heterosexual couples. The process should not involve any exchange of compensation, either in cash or in kind.
Two pair of hands symbolise the takers and the givers
But financial difficulties continue to compel many women to become surrogates against payment, and there are no dearth of takers. India is also a popular destination for couples from overseas seeking surrogacy, as the process is much more affordable here compared to other countries.
Ethical and legal debates apart, surrogacy also puts the surrogate mother through emotional turmoil. It is this angle that the Shyambazar Palli Sangha Puja will dwell on this year.
“The plight of a surrogate mother and her pain at having to give away her own child are what we seek to highlight. Some of us (members of the puja committee) had come across a story on surrogacy where a mother had rented out her womb and her plight was described vividly. We were deeply moved and decided to dedicate our puja to such mothers in our country,” said Subrata Bhattacharjee of Shyambazar Palli Sangha.
Artists at work at the Shyambazar Palli Sangha Durga Puja pandal
In keeping with the theme of surrogacy, the pandal at Shyambazar Palli Sangha will have models made of fiberglass, cloth and wood depicting the pain and dilemma of a surrogate mother.
In one portion of the pandal, hands with pictures of currency notes painted on them have been put up — one set of hands seems to be giving and the other taking. Similarly, a rolling boat is being built to depict the tumultuous life of surrogates.
“A mother would never give away her child for anything, but there are mothers who do exactly that under financial compulsion. These women are bound by contract and secrecy and no one talks about the pain they have to go through. We are performing the puja of a divine mother, who comes to Earth every year with her children. Through our theme, we wish all mothers in the world well,” Bhattacharjee said.
Artist Rajesh Mondal is sculpting the clay idol, which too will have a unique design. The frontal view will show Ma Durga with her children depicted as an everyday Indian mother. “She will be depicted like a mother with all her children. At the back, the traditional (goddess) Durga will be shown blessing this mother — one mother is blessing the other,” said artist Sandeep Saha, under whose leadership the pandal is being designed.