This year the Goddess Durga takes the form of a migrant mother. The Barisha Club in Behala, Kolkata, is creating an idol of “Migrant Worker Goddess” for Durga Puja. The club has decided to commemorate the migrant laborers who walked barefoot to their villages during the COVID-19 pandemic. The plight of migrant workers during lockdown had led to a widespread outrage, with demands for immediate relief and transport for the travelling daily wage workers, etc.
According to The Telegraph, the idol will be clad in a saree with a shirtless baby in her arms. The theme highlights this year’s purpose to celebrate the festival, which is “Tran” (relief). It is likely to depict the pain and suffering the migrant workers endured during the pandemic, the report claims. It also marks the homecoming of the women laborers, just like daughter Durga. Many mothers were photographed carrying their infants in their arms during on long return journeys during the lockdown. Check out the pictures of the idol here:
Migrant Mother as Goddess Durga at a Durga Puja Pandal this year
The idol of a migrant worker mother, a shirtless toddler (Kartick) in her arms, that will be worshipped as Goddess Durga at Barisha Club in Behala, West Bengal
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An ode to migrant mothers on Durga Puja
“The goddess is the woman who braved the scorching sun and hunger and penury along with her children. She is looking for food, water and some relief for her children,” said Rintu Das, the artist, reflecting on this year’s theme of Durga Puja. So far, there is no clarity about the pandal decoration. “No pandal can fully capture the plight of workers during the lockdown. But we can at least show some empathy,” said Debaprosad Bose, a founder-member of the club.
Reportedly, migrant mother’s idol will be installed with her two daughters. While one will be with a baby owl in the crook of her arm, the other would be seen with a duck. A fourth sibling will be depicted as a pot-bellied with the head of an elephant.
“During the lockdown, all I remember seeing on TV and reading in newspapers was migrant workers returning home on foot, some of them dying on the road. Some of my friends who drove to Bengal from Delhi and other parts of northern India gave me vivid details of what they saw on the roads. Durga Puja was still months away. But the indomitable spirit of the women walking home with children overwhelmed me. In my mind, they embodied the goddess,” said Das.
Many migrant workers lost their lives while returning to their hometowns during the nationwide lockdown. As on May 28, the government said they had documented deaths of 238 migrant workers. Uttar Pradesh marked the highest number of deaths (at least 99), followed by Madhya Pradesh (at least 34), Maharashtra (at least 31) and Bihar (at least 23). In June, a report by SaveLIFE Foundation, a New Delhi-based non-profit organisation working on road safety, released a report according to which at least 198 migrant workers were killed in road accidents between March 25 and May 31.