Friday, 26 October 2012

Golden Dusshera and the Third Eye

The festive season in India is on in full swing. Goddess Durga is on her 5-day visit to Mother Earth. This festival symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. Most parts of India are agog with the puja spirit.

The most well-known festivities and puja pandals are at Kolkata. Next to Kolkata are the celebrations and puja pundals of Cuttack, the erstwhile capital of Odisha. My city Bhubaneswar, the post-independence capital of Odisha, is fast catching up, and perhaps has overtaken Cuttack in this aspect.

The silver city of Cuttack, famous for its silver filigree works, is known for its Durga idols donning gold ornaments against the backdrop of silver tableaux. This year there are 155 puja pandals decorated with gold and silver worth crores of rupees. One puja pandal has a silver backdrop made of 3.5 quintals of this precious metal.

Bhubaneswar, with its 170 puja pandals, does not wish to lag behind in the use of precious metals in Durga Puja. One Puja Committee has used 160 Kgs of silver in tableaux in the background and the Deity in this pandal has a crown of gold weighing 750 grams. The gold crown adorning the deity at one puja mandap at Cuttack weighs a little less than 4 Kgs. More and more mandaps are shifting to crowns made of gold.

Durga Puja at Alam Chand Bazar, Cuttack was started by Netaji Subas Chandra Bose in his younger days. (The ancestral house of Netaji at Cuttack, where he was born is still standing. He had his school and college education at Cuttack. Later, he shifted to Kolkata and joined the freedom movement.)

The former and the present capital cities of Odisha have become twin-cities. Earlier, people of Bhubaneswar used to visit Cuttack to watch the splendour of Durga Puja there. The flow has started in the reverse direction; residents of Cuttack have started visiting Bhubaneswar to see the gorgeous puja pandals in the capital-city..  

However, curiously, none of the pandals has been insured. The Puja Committes feel that insurance cover is not needed as they have taken enough precautions in the form of private security personnel, CCTV cameras and police arrangements.

One additional attraction of Puja celebrations at Bhubaneswar this year has been the 5-day Dandiya Dance Festival in the evenings. Anyone can participate or watch this by purchasing a ticket.

One question which arises in my mind when I visit these pandals is that in almost all cases, the image of Goddess Durga has a third eye. I know that Lord Shiva has a third eye by opening which He burnt down Madan, the god of love, when the latter tried to break Shiva’s meditation, but does Goddess Durga has a third eye?  And in many cases, the image of Lord Ganesh also has a third eye. In all cases, the third eye is positioned vertically (to give the face a better look?), not horizontally like the other two normally positioned eyes. Is this as it should be?

Or, is the concept of the vertically-positioned third eye meant to provide a view from a different dimension or a different angle, not reached by the horizontally-positioned eyes?

By the way, images of Kartikeya, the other son of Lord Shiva, are perhaps not given this third eye.

Talking of the third eye takes to me to another story. A man used to find defects in everything including the creations of God. His  wife derisively said, "You have indeed become a wise man; you can faults in God's creation." Proudly, he said, "If God gives me another eye, I can find more mistakes in His work." Immediately, God appeared, told that his wish would be fulfilled and then He disappeared. A third seemed to appear on his forehead but it remained like a bulge only and did not open. His wife became worried. However, he became calm and said, "Don't worry, it has opened inside and now I can see all my faults and these are numerous.From now onwards, I shall stop finding faults with others." He became really a wise man.

To End With

The West Bengal Government has declared a 10-day holiday from the 20th to the 29th October for its offices for Durga Puja and Kumar Poornima. In the original Notification, the 26th was a working day but it was declared as a holiday just before the Puja. So, the Govt.-machinery has to stop working for continuous 10 days! Add to this the fact that the decision of the newspaper hawkers’ Union not to deliver the papers from the 22nd to the 25th has forced the suspension of publication of newspapers for 4 days.

No news is good news!

Happy Dusshera!       


  1. Sometimes I wonder, what the consequences of using all that money and gold put on deities used for people who find it hard to eat 3 meals a days :

  2. And lakhs of rupees are spent in making the idols and decorating the pandals using non-biodegradable materials. After the puja,these are immersed in rivers polluting the water and the environment.