Bhubaneswar: In a bid to highlight the plight of migrant workers amid lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic, a puja pandal in Kolkata will showcase Goddess Durga as a migrant worker.
According to Telegraph India, the Barisha Club Durga Puja committee in Behala, Kolkata, has decided to install the statue to highlight the plight of migrant workers who were left without jobs and forced to walk hundreds of kilometres home as the country went into a coronavirus-induced lockdown in March this year.
Goddesses Laxmi and Saraswati have been replaced with migrant worker’s daughters, carrying a duck and owl, respectively, which are considered as the deities’ chosen vahan. The migrant worker mother idol also carries a shirtless child in her arms, in place of Lord Kartik. Besides, there is a pot-bellied child with an elephant head, signifying Lord Ganesh. Breaking from tradition, there are no weapons nor the idol of demon god Asura.
Together, the mother and her children will be seen walking towards a smaller, more traditional image of Ma Durga – a halo with 10 hands. The hands are also devoid of any weapons.
Rintu Das, the artiste behind the sculptures that have gone viral on social media, told Telegraph India that the migrant mother is representative of a goddess. He added that the Goddess is a woman who braved scorching heat, hunger and thirst along with her children looking for relief.
The sudden announcement of lockdown left millions of migrant labourers across India with no option but walk back home hundreds of kilometres. The images of women migrants on foot and spirit was the inspiration for Rintu. “In my mind, they embodied the goddess,” he said.
More than one crore migrants returned to their home states on foot during March-June 2020, as per data compiled by the Ministry of Labour and Employment. About 81,385 accidents occurred on the roads during the period with 29,415 fatalities, the Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways V K Singh told Lok Sabha in a written reply.
This year the Durga Puja falls on October 24. While the festivities usually continue for nine days, this year there has been strict restrictions due to the pandemic. The celebrations will be in a restricted manner with no immersion ceremony.