Now, a 30-ft kali idol in kolkata_ is the depth of our faith proportionate to the size of the idol_ – yahoo news india


Now, a 30-ft Kali idol in Kolkata? Is the depth of our faith proportionate to the size of the idol? While the whole of the country is in a festive mode, I can’t help question if our faith and sense of devotion are in any way directly proportionate to the size of the idols we splurge lakhs of rupees on.

The day before yesterday, on my way home, I happened to pass the Jodhpurpark Lake in our up-market South Kolkata neighbourhood.

I noticed how a row of Goddess

Lakshmi idols had been abandoned on the narrow pavement surrounding the iron grills recently erected around the lake to probably stop the slum-dwellers from peeing and washing clothes in the lake waters, immersion of idols too having now been stopped here.

Yesterday morning, a leading English daily claimed there is still no home for the tallest Goddess Durga idol at Deshapriya Park and how, over the next few days, the massive fiber-glass idols are going to be dismantled.

Staring at Durga and her wards Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesh and Kartik lying on the ground, a pensive Mintu Pal, the master creator who had made these idols, wondered about the fate of his massive installation.

With no word from the West Bengal government yet on the alternative site where the idols are to be transported for reassembly and display on a permanent basis, Pal was quoted as being worried about where would he store the magnum-sized segments of the idols once they are dismantled.

While one of the sites was Eco Park in New Town, the other was at Rabindra Sarobar. However, six days on, the joint inspection for finalizing the venue is yet to happen.

“ I don’t know whether we will be able to hold the famous idol in our state (West Bengal). Other states have shown interest in preserving it. Now it is our state administration that has to take the final call. As an artist I will hope that we do not lose the opportunity of keeping the idol in our state for exhibition and preservation,” Pal lamented.

No sooner did the hullabaloo over the world’s tallest Durga died down (rather unceremoniously and barely 48 hours before its inauguration), than news of a 30-foot tall Goddess Kali idol in Kolkata emerged.

While the whole of the country is in a festive mode, I can’t help question if our faith and sense of devotion are in any way directly proportionate to the size of the idols we splurge lakhs of rupees on. Religion has been turned into a competitive, corporate war backed by hefty sponsorships and in-your-face consumer hoardings?

West Bengal’s tourism is languishing and, with the Pujas over, there is hardly anything to lure a tourist to Kolkata: crumbling infrastructure, shoddy roads and taxis that refuse to carry you.

The state tourism department has, meanwhile, devised a Rs 123-crore coastal tourism circuit development plan to be placed before the Union tourism ministry for approval and funding.

The coastal circuit plan envisages a total tourism infrastructure development plan along the state’s coastal border from Old Digha to Fraserganj, including New Digha, Udaypur, Shankarpur, Tajpur, Mandarmani, Bakkhali and Henry Islands.

Can’t all the money poured into the creation of idols and mandaps and theme pujas be used in a better manner? How about a crafts museum that stores all this talent and is open to public on an entry fee and that isn’t dismantled just after five odd days!

Also, does spending so much money on these pujas, that seem to be sprouting at breakneck speed in every locality, do anything for the welfare of the state, apart from providing entertainment value to the people just for a few days?

Will the 30-foot Kali idol, for instance, create new jobs, improve roads and infrastructure, ensure child and women’s safety, facilitate better healthcare services, ensure smoother governance, end poverty and homelessness?

Also, have we even given a passing thought to the high levels of river pollution that the immersion of idols in lakes and rivers causes?

A recent report in The Hindu talked about the case of pollution in Hussainsagar Lake in Hyderabad. A team sampled water repeatedly from different parts of the lake, including one spot ‘immersed with hundreds of multi-coloured idols of Lord Ganesh and Goddess Durga’, and another near ‘the outfall of black-coloured, untreated raw sewage containing a collection of industrial effluents’.

Sewage, they concluded, was responsible for most but not all of the pollution. High levels of zinc, calcium and strontium ‘were probably due to the immersed idols painted with multicoluors’.

A study on the impact of idol immersion activities on the water quality of Tapi river in Surat mentioned sampling the water ‘at morning hours during pre-immersion, during immersion and post-immersion periods of Ganesh idols’. The conclusion was: ‘The main reason of the deterioration of water quality . . . is various religious activities’, with special blame on ‘plaster of Paris, clothes, iron rods, chemical colours, varnish and paints used for making the idols’.

Another study on heavy metal contamination in a lake in urban Bhopal, published in 2007, discovered that idol immersion has become ‘a major source of contamination and sedimentation to the lake water’.

Have we thought about the large-scale damage and wastage of resources in a country that has no food to eat? What would this money mean if directed to charity?

And what if we didn’t focus on a limited time-period revelry?

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