Our country is a land of diversity with diverse, religions, communities, cultures, languages, and arts all bind together with a thread of one belonging to India. Let’s not go much far, one may observe diversity within every state. And this diversity is observed in the form of varied and enriched culture across the boundaries of the country. One such form of culture resemblance of a region is the idols they worship. When we see the celebrations of Durga Puja around the country, we see different forms of Durga Idols being worshiped. Let us take a quick review of the different Durga idols in various parts of the country.
1. Bengali Idols
This style of sculpting idols is observed in various Eastern states of West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Bihar. Kumortoli of West Bengal is specifically famous for sculpting Durga idols. The city of Kumortoli has a tradition of sculpting idols of Durga and Laxmi and there are several generations of families who have sustained the art of sculpting. Naturally, the facial features of the goddesses resemble the facial features observed in the women of this region. The idol is meant to look in the way a Bengali woman dressed in traditional Bengali attire would seem. Since the purpose of Durga worship is to celebrate the victory of the Goddess over evil, this year modern idols in the form of 'Coronasura' have also made place in the market.
2. Idols of Sherawali
The name itself suggests that the idol is naturally expected to resemble the goddess seated over a Lion or a Tiger. Sherawali Mata or Mata Rani is mainly worshiped among the Punjabis but the tradition in observed in most of the Northern states. No matter how much the features of the sculpture of the goddess may change, but the idol worshiped during Navratri is mostly an aggressive one or the one who has taken control of the evil. Just like the Durga idols of Bengal show her taking control of the demon Mahishasura, the sculpture of Sherawali is shown seated over a lion resembling her taking control of the wild and ferocious animal with her bravery.
3. Idols of Ambaji
After Bengal, if there's any region which extravagantly celebrates the festival of Navratri then it has to be Gujarat. Navratri is the most important festival of Gujaratis. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated by dancing Garba and Dandiya at all nine nights of the festival. In Gujarat, more that idol worship, we observe the tradition of worshipping 'Garba', which is a very attractive pot with lamp in it. However, the form of goddess worshiped the most in Gujarat is mainly Ambaji. Ambaji also is seen seated on a Lion, symbolizing the same purpose, with a pleasant face. A little difference observed in the traditional idols of Ambaji in Gujarat and Rajasthan is that the idol is mostly made of Marble or Sandstone as per the availability of rock on the region.
4. Maharashtrian Idols of Bhavani
Bhavani idols can be observed to be worshipped in entire Maharashtra, some parts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The forms of the idol may vary slightly as per the culture. However, mainly the colour of the idol is black dressed in a Maharashtrian Saree with 'Nath' ( Maharashtrian Nose ring) and Thushi (Neck piece worn be married women in Maharashtra). The colour of the idol is mostly black due to geological reasons since the rock available on the Deccan Plateau is the Black Basalt. We see a major cultural shift while we travel from North to South, in the form of idols that the use of Kumkum is more in the Northern and Eastern Durga idols, whereas here the use of Haldi is more dominant. Bhavani Idols are always with a forehead filled with Haldi or turmeric powder.
The forms and idols of the goddess vary throughout the country but the festival of Navratri is celebrated with the same purpose of celebrating the power of Shakti to end negativity. The whole country is excited to celebrate Navratri this year, starting from tomorrow. Although it won't be the same this year because of the Pandemic, let’s stay home and celebrate the festival safely, without compromising with the enthusiasm.
- Himali Nalawade