They did not have the fund to lavishly decorate pandals, yet they dared to dream big. Women from a humble locality near Rammohan Roy Road in north Kolkata, draped the mother goddess with costume jewellery that have left the viewers awestruck.
The idea, that involved extensive labour of local women — mostly homemakers, struck the Puja organizers. “What if we wanted to drape the idol with jewellery like the mega budget puja pandals? That was the driving force behind the mammoth work that lasted over a fortnight,” said Mahua Sardar, a woman who was married to a man in the locality a few months ago.
Mahua, who had been making jewellery out of passion, proposed the organizers that while they cannot bear cost of the expensive jewellery like those used by big-budget Durga Puja pandals, they can have similar effects with costume jewellery. “The cost was only for the raw materials. We decided to put in our best to decorate the idol and the pandal,” said Sardar.
Some of the Puja organizers went to Burrabazar and other wholesale markets in search of the raw materials while Sardar started learning jewellery designs from YouTube. Gradually, other women from the nearby slum joined her. “They had to learn jewellery designing and then gel that with the theme of the puja. We thought that was an impossible task for simple homemakers like Mahua and her friends,” said Dilip Singh, president of Rammohan Roy Road Tarun Sangha puja committee.
“We realized that the jewellery were not getting a professional finish that people expect. We did not want to disappoint viewers and started learning how to give them a fresh-from-the-shop look. Some of the women planned to display the entire process as a fashion show and gel that with the theme of the pandal,” Sardar said.
One of the organizers put up some photographs and small videos of the jewellerymaking process on social networking sites and that started drawing attention. “The first response was from a non-resident Indian, who is also the president of a chamber of commerce in Singapore. He sent a cheque and booked the jewellery after the idol is immersed,” Singh said.
Minister for self help groups and self employment and local MLA Sadhan Pandey said, “I was surprised at the professional-quality jewellery made without formal training. They have now planned to sell such jewellery. I have asked them to brand these jewellery. The state government is ready to help them,” he said.
Source: Times of India