Each year it causes us such heartache to see the stunning pandal artworks being dismantled and the beautifully-crafted Durga idols being immersed after the four days of revelry. The creations that astound us during the festivities are conceived after a painstaking journey of over three months; the hard work of the artisans remains mostly ungratified. One can imagine how heartbreaking it can be for the artists to see their creations being destroyed. But thanks to the initiatives of the state government and several museums in India and abroad, the highly acclaimed artworks can now be preserved permanently and displayed all the year round.
The marvelous twelve and half feet statue of Prophet Moses, which was the star attraction at the Santosh Mitra Square Puja pandal caught the attention of Italian tourists. They have asked the puja organisers to hand over the statue, which they wish to display at Vatican City. Similar requests have come in from the Italian consulate. The organisers have decided to gift the statue to Vatican City where it will be showcased at a museum.
The states of Odisha and Madhya Pradesh have shown interest in preserving Durga idols. The state government of Odisha has contacted Hatibagan Sarbojonin Durgotsav committee for the same. Hatibagan Nabin Pally’s idol may also fly to some other state. Hatibagan Sarbojonin Durgotsav’s idol has been made of buffalo horn. ‘Horn craft’, an almost extinct art form of Odisha, was recreated by the artists from Baishnob Chawk, a village in the Kolaghat area; their creations drew the attention of scores of Odiya people.
Initiatives by the state
Naktala Udayan Sangha’s idol, made of single block of stone weighing 16 tons, will stay in Bengal only. Our Chief Minister has shown interest in this regard and the details of preservation will soon be decided. The idol was crafted by renowned artist Bhabatosh Sutar. His earlier work for Naktala Udayan Sangha, in the year of 2011, made of brass and mahogany has been preserved at Rabi Tirtha museum by the Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (HIDCO) on behalf of the state government.
Earlier in 2003, the beautifully-crafted terracotta pandal by artists from Panchmora village, under the guidance of Bhabatosh Sutar, was been preserved by the ITC group in their hotel ITC Sonar Bangla.
Preserving pandal art is a gratification for the artists who work tirelessly to satiate the pandal-hopping crowd during the festive days. These opportunities also enable them to reach out to a global audience.