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Daaker Saaj

Since the import took place by post (known as daak in Bengali), this special type of ornamentation became popular by the name of Daaker Saaj.

Debanjana Banerjee | Kolkata |

Change is inevitable and it is the only constant. When the entire world is constantly updating and upgrading itself, how can the Mother Goddess stay behind?

The traditional Durga Puja is slowly being replaced by the theme pujo. The changes can be seen in the pandalssabeki Durga pratima (traditional Durga idol) is converted into theme-based idols. The ornamentation is evolving through the ages.

Time unknown, when there was only traditional household Puja, the zamindar-bari Durga Puja, Devi’s ornaments were made up of gold. The people of the zamindar-bari used to decorate the idols with gold jewellery and remove them before visarjan (immersion).

As the competition among the puja organisers increased, a new way of decorating the idol came. As an alternative to gold jewellery, Devi’s ornaments were made using thermocol, metallic wires, sheets and foils. The raw materials were imported from other countries, mainly from Germany. Since the import took place by post (known as daak in Bengali), this special type of ornamentation became popular by the name of Daaker Saaj. It became popular among the wealthy part of the society.

The Daaker Saaj was primarily made up of rangta (silver foil) and silver sequins. In those days, these raw materials were not easily available in India. So, the import was the only way out. Although it was highly dependent on foreign imports, Daaker Saaj made its place in the traditional idol decoration. The demand of Daaker Saaj was high, not only among the Zaminda-bari and bonedi-bari (rich family), but also among the sarvajanin (participation of commoners) pujo committees. As the sarvajanin pujo was mainly dependent on fund-raising, it was not much difficult for the organisers to afford the costly Daaker Saaj.

But nothing remains forever. The traditional Daaker Saaj started to diminish gradually too. This was mainly due to the high price of the Daaker Saaj, but there were other reasons as well. The modern idols are seen full of colours. This was a thing that the Daaker Saaj failed to provide.

Now, Durga idols are decorated with colourful sarees and ornaments. That surely makes the idols attractive, but Daaker Saaj remains eternal. It was an inevitable part of the traditional Durga pratima and it will always have a special place of its own.