Kolkata: A five-foot-tall fibre idol of Goddess Kali, crafted in the lanes of Kolkata’s potters’ colony Kumartuli, is set to adorn the British Museum, which is bringing together sculptures, sacred objects and artworks from across the globe for an exhibition highlighting the many faces of feminine power.
Artisan Kaushik Ghosh, who took a month-and-half to make the idol, said that he was delighted to be a part of an initiative that would be celebrating and worshipping femininity.
Ghosh was contacted in December by Camden Durga Puja, a committee of NRI Bengalis in London, for the project.
“As a Bengali and an Indian, I am proud of the fact that my creation will find a place in the museum among other deities. I have used premium quality fibre and paints to make the idol, keeping in mind the theme of the exhibition. Ornaments embellishing the idol are all gold-plated,” the artisan explained.
The 35-kg idol of the goddess will be in the company of Egyptian deity Sekhmet and Greek’s Athena at the museum.
The chairman of Camden Durga Puja, Ananda Gupta, who was approached by Kayte McSweeney from the British Museum for collaboration, said that a series of consultations were held to explain to her the significance of the goddess, both in Hinduism and in individual lives and belief systems.
“It is a first-of-its-kind exhibition, which will be inaugurated on May 17. The idol has already arrived at the museum. McSweeney and her colleagues, during the course of their research, witnessed Kali Puja organised by Camden committee and took note of the rituals being performed. They filmed the entire process.
“Several rounds of consultations were held between McSweeney and a panel formed by Camden for the project. It was then Kaushik Ghosh, a well-known clay modeler in Kumartuli, was contacted. It is as if Maa Kali has arrived here in London from the bylanes of Kumartuli,” Gupta said.
An edited version of the film shot by McSweeney will be made available to the visitors of the museum.
The idol is now being fumigated and readied by the British Museum authorities for the exhibition, said Sunbir Sanyal, the general secretary of Camden committee.
“Goddess Kali will be introduced in a section that explores warrior goddesses and aggressive female deities who provide protection against earthly or cosmic threats,” he underlined.
According to the website of British Museum, the exhibition would try to gauge how female authority was perceived in ancient cultures.
“From wisdom, passion and desire, to war, justice and mercy, the diverse expression of female spiritual powers around the world prompt us to reflect on how we perceive femininity and gender identity today,” the website added.
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