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Bagerhat’s Durga Puja attraction: 151 idols in one mandap

Durga Puja is a major festival in Muslim-majority Bangladesh where close to 8 percent of more than 160 million people are Hindu.

 

Despite communal tensions in recent years during the largest festival of the Hindu community, participation of people from different faiths has given the celebration a unique character.

 

This year, a major draw in Bagerhat district is the largest number of idols at a single puja mandap.

 

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Organisers say a total of 151 idols of different deities have found their place, depicting the stories of Hindu epics – Ramayan and Mahabharat – at the Chulkathi Banikpara Puja Mandap in Bagerhat’s Sadar upazila.

 

The display is attracting not only Hindus but also people from other communities to the Banikpara Mandap to have glimpses of the idols.

 

Celebration of Durga Puja began at the Banikpara Mandap in 2001 in a small way. But in 2005, a massive celebration was held with 101 idols.

 

Bagerhat’s Durga Puja attraction: 151 idols in one mandap

 

Photo: UNB

 

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the festival was subdued in 2020 and 2021. But now, as restrictions have eased, organisers have made a comeback by breaking all the previous records.

 

In Bagerhat district, Durga Puja is being celebrated at 632 mandaps this year, amid heightened security. Authorities have installed CCTV cameras with volunteers working tirelessly to avoid any untoward incidents.

 

Dipankar Kumar Sadhu, President of Chulkathi Banikpara Durga Puja Organising Committee, said that they were arranging the puja in a big way for a specific reason.

 

“The idols at the mandap are representing many epic stories of our religion. We’re trying to let people know about Hinduism. At the same time, we’re trying to inspire brotherhood and peace by welcoming everyone at the festival,” he said.

 

“In future, we’re planning to expand more,” he added.

 

Ganesh Sarker, an idol maker, said that it has taken two and a half months for him and three other artisans to make the 151 idols.

 

“The idols have been made based on Ramayan and Mahabharat. We’ve used local and imported colours and ornaments to decorate them. We’ve tried to make them life-like,” said Ganesh.

 

Source: United News of Bangladesh