Every year when Durga Pooja knocks our doors, the artisan’s market sees a high jump as people everywhere need Durga Idols for their pandals.
Maybe not so much in the rest of the country but in Kolkata, this is as big as Ganpati Festival in Mumbai.
During Durga Pooja, the idol of Durga Maa holds foremost importance.
In fact, they are considered to be the holiest because a unique mixture of various elements is used in its making. The artisans use cow dung, cow urine, mud from the Ganges banks and soil from the forbidden territories to make the idols of Durga Maa.
Apart from all the elements, it is the soil from forbidden territories that is the most important of all.
So, where are these forbidden territories?
For those artisans, it is Sonagachi, which is the Asia’s largest red-light area located in Kolkata with more than 11,000 sex workers.
Are you not wondering during Durga Pooja why do the artisans use the soil from a prostitute’s land to make the idol holy? Well, the answer to this question is totally bizarre. First of all, no one is sure of when the custom of getting soil from this land began from but as the tradition goes, the priest has to beg for the soil from a sex worker and she will hand it over to him while he recites a mantra. I am sure, the irony must have been playing with the priests here.
As per different people, there are various reasons behind taking soil from a sex worker’s land.
Usually, people believe that when someone enters the doorstep of a sex worker, he leaves his virtue at the door to enter a world full of sin. Therefore, it is believed that those doorsteps consists of virtue and piety of those who visit sex workers. Though this transformation from piousness to evilness is totally bizarre, this is what their tradition believes in.
There are also some people who believe that it is done to involve the oppressed section of the society into the pooja by adding some of their soil in the idol’s holiness. Now I don’t understand why they involve them in the making of Durga idol when right after Durga puja they ignore them and mistreat them as usually.
It’s weird how these customs are made, but it makes some of us happy that at least God has let some people respect each section of the society that consist of red light areas too.