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270kg chandi medha to debut - Rs 1.2cr background at Dargha Bazar Durga Puja

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By Lalmohan Patnaik
  • Published 12.09.17

Artisans put finishing touches to silver filigree work for the Dargha Bazar Puja Committee’s idol in Cuttack on Monday. Picture by Badrika Nath Das

Cuttack, Sept. 11: Dargha Bazar, which has been organising Durga Puja for the past the 25 years, is coming up with a silver filigree backdrop, locally called chandi medha, worth Rs 1.20 crore for goddess Durga at its puja mandap this year.

"The chandi medha has been moulded out of 270kg of silver to mark the silver jubilee of Dussehra celebrations at our puja mandap," said secretary of Dargha Bazar Puja Committee Saroj Ranjan Kar.

"We are happy that people of our area have made it possible by donating silver generously for the making of the silver filigree backdrop, which will be ready for inauguration on September 24," Kar said.

Craftsman Pradip Prusty, 41, of Alisha Bazar, who led a 10-member team to mould the chandi medha said: "We have been working 14 to 15 hours a day to complete the intricate tarkashi (silver filigree work) in less than a year."

Prusty was earlier associated in making chandi medhas for puja committees at Kathagada Sahi (2008), Bakhrabad (2012) and Manglabag (2015).

Strong competition over putting up the best show has apparently pushed many puja committees to come up with giant silver filigree backdrops in the past years.

Dargha Bazar Puja Committee advisor Bharat Kumar Sethi, however, said: "It is not just about the competition. It's about encouraging the exquisite art form of tarkashi".

"Though Cuttack is famous for silver filigree, lack of resources and work opportunities have forced the young generation of the traditional craftsmen to get into other fields," Sethi said.

Chandi medhas have been apparently providing periodical work to some craftsmen.

"We are paid Rs 3,500 for moulding one kg of silver. The team of artisans shared the money they were paid for moulding 270kg silver for making the chandi medha for the Dargha Bazar Puja Committee," Prusty said.

Till last year, 23 puja mandaps had sported chandi medhas weighing between 100kg and 500kg. With the Dargha Bazar backdrop, the number will go up to 24.

This trend was introduced by the Choudhury Bazar Puja Mandap, which came up with a 250kg chandi medha in 1956. But then, it had no parallel in the country, as far as the silver filigree work was concerned.

Later, the trend was picked up first by Sheikh Bazar Puja Committee, which came with a 350kg chandi medha, in 1991. In 2004, Ranihat Puja Committee joined the group followed by Haripur-Dolamundai Puja Committee next year.

Tough competition over the "best show" had since apparently pushed puja committees in Chandni Chowk, Alisha Bazar, Chauliaganj, Badambadi, Kazi Bazar, Balu Bazar, Tulasipur-Bauri Sahi, Nayasarak, Machua Bazar, Firingi Bazar, Badambadi, Sikharpur and other places to come with giant silver filigree backdrops in silver.