Durga Ma in Mizoram is slaying the ‘rakshasa’ of environmental degradation.
There are a few temples in the Christian dominated state (87% of the entire population). However, the goddess is worshipped by the Gorkha community. Of the 13 that are managed by the Central Gorkha Mandir Committee, five are in Aizawl.
The idols here are being preserved to be reused next year. Each fibreglass idol is housed within the temple complex after the Pujo and only brought out for next year’s celebration.
It wasn’t until 2012 that change ushered in. Till 2011 the clay idols were being immersed in water on Vijaya Dashami. It were the chemicals used in the clay idols that threatened the water bodies and urged the need to look for an alternative. “That year, we switched to the images of the Goddess and her entourage printed on flex. We used a dollop of earth as a symbolic idol for worshipping, used all biodegradable material to conduct the Puja and immersed them in the streams and rivers as per the convenience of each temple administration,” Uday Kumar, the Pujo committee’s president told the daily.
Five years later, the committee members realised that the non-biodegradable flex were also prone to tearing. “In 2016, we decided to change to a fibreglass idol,” reported a leading daily quoting Pratap Chhetri, a local resident. “The bigger temple at Bawngkawn has a 5ft idol while the one at Om Mandir in Thuampui, our locality, is smaller,” he added.
“You can say we don’t throw our Mother Goddess away after we are through with worshipping her. She is always around us,” said Mr Uday Kumar.