Why I feel an evil spirit possessed Ma Durga idol at Deshapriya Park

Was there darkness within that form, which had been used, perhaps misused, by the powers that be?

 |  6-minute read |   19-10-2015
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Can evil possess a beautiful statue? Can darkness walk into the empty form of an idol? And what if that form is of the goddess, an 88-feet-high Durga idol?

I remember the story of the famed Annabelle doll. It was bought by a mother for her young daughter in the 1970s. The daughter and her roommate kept the doll in their apartment, but soon strange things started to happen. The doll would move by itself, often turning up in a different room from the one where they had left it. The girls found small scraps of paper, with childish handwriting scrawled on them. Frightened, they contacted a psychic medium, who told them that the spirit of a girl who had died in the apartment building had taken residence in the doll. It was the psychic investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren who told the girls that the doll was possessed by a dark entity, who had lied to get close to them, and perhaps eventually possess them. The doll now rests in the Lorraine's Occult Museum in Connecticut.

But why only dolls - possessions, they say can happen even to sacred objects. Objects which on the face of it perhaps, stand for the divine.

The famed Women from Lembis, a limestone statue that was discovered in 1878 in Lemb, Cyprus. The statue itself goes back to 3500 BC, and is said to represent a fertility goddess.

It was first owned by Lord Elphont, and within six years of having the statue in his possession, all seven of the Elphont family members had died from mysterious causes. Both of the next two owners, Ivor Manucci and Lord Thompson-Noel, also died along with their entire families just a few short years after taking the statue into their homes. The fourth owner, Sir Alan Biverbrook, died as well, along with his wife and two of their daughters. Shortly afterward, the statue was donated to the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh. Soon, the chief of the section which housed the statue suddenly died as well. Since then, the Woman of Lembis kept safely under glass and protected from human hands.

Much closer to home, in Kolkata, do the sacred and evil often walk hand in hand? Can desecration lead to mayhem?

It was a few months ago, when Kolkata and surrounding areas suddenly saw the first intriguing ads, saying "Eto Boro, Sotti" ("so big, truly"). They showed various stages of the making of the Durga idol, and proclaimed the largest one in the world would be there at Deshapriya Park, Kolkata this year. Sponsored by Star Cement, th teaser ads alone reportedly ran into costs of Rs 2 crore. Intrigue gave way to excitement and people made plans to visit this remarkable giant form of the goddess. They came from the districts of Bengal, from surrounding states and even from neighbouring countries across the border.

As the weeks passed and Bengal was suffused with light and gaiety, and the time of the goddess arrived, people came out of their homes and thronged the streets, for a glimpse of the goddess. Street corners and neighborhoods set up pandals with the goddess within, each vying with the other to win the coveted prize for theme and beauty. Needless to say, the hype of the past weeks had seen to it that footsteps were drawn to Deshapriya Park in droves. People started to throng the pandals from days before the Pujas formally started, and they came in endless waves to see the largest image of the goddess in the world.

They saw a pale form of Durga which towered 88 feet tall. She was surrounded by Lakshmi, Saraswati, Karthik and Ganesh, and her trident dove straight down into the head of the demon at her feet. The artists and craftsmen had said that the face of the goddess Durga alone was 12 feet high. But strangely, there was no sign of worship of this goddess. She was made of cement and fiber glass, breaking the ancient tradition of clay and ritual moulding. She was not being worshipped or revered. She was held up, merely as a gimmick, brought alive from the advertisement board, to the grounds on which this huge contraption stood. And yet - common refrain of the people called her "Ma", and looked upon her as the goddess to be prayed to. She was actually merely a façade of the pandal, created for all to gape at. Under her form, stood a much smaller idol, which was moulded of clay and in the tradition of the scriptures. This is the form which was being worshipped.

Was it an unthinking gimmick? Or a grand deception, wrought upon the goddess herself, perhaps?

As the evening lights were trained on the enormous form, it glowed a luminous white, the eyes elongated and outlined black, the mouth firm, and fists clenching her trident. On the evening of Panchami, October 18, there seemed to be a greenish haze around the form. Her gaze seemed darker and something seemed to be rising from within the cement form.

It was from the early evening, that suddenly everything started to go wrong. The crowds became a flood and a near stampede ensued. There, under the gaze of the largest Durga in the world, the elderly fell, getting crushed underfoot. Relatives, trying to help them, collapsed. Children and women were the worst affected. The organisers stood helpless and the police delegated to the spot were ineffectual in the mad pandemonium which ensued. Soon, the police authorities arrived on the spot and Deshapriya Park was closed to visitors. TV cameras which panned the grounds showed torn slippers, strips of sarees and dupattas, children's hairbands, and water bottles- the remains of what had been a few hours ago.

Even as the perimetres were closed off, people clung to the railings with a strange fascination, taking photographs and wanting to be let in. As if they were answering to a call from the large form within, drawing them to her despite the mayhem and the chaos.

Was this a divine being? Or was there darkness within that form, which had been used, perhaps misused by the powers that be?

The next day, the police authorities ordered that the large Durga be covered by sheets to try and stop people gathering outside the gates. The orders were carried out and long sheets of white were tossed from the crown of the idol, to cover the whole form, shrouding the once-divine. However, within a few hours, the long sheets were billowing as they were pulled off and the restlessness which pervaded the environ now seemed to flow stronger. The organisers had pleaded with the authorities and sought that the image be uncovered.

It is a strange energy which seems to be within the cement form. It is not an ordinary statue, for it is in the form of the goddess and has been advertised as such to visitors. And yet, it is not the goddess herself as the scriptures say, bearing no mark of worship from those who created her. A goddess , and yet not. As she stands there today, in the midst of the deserted grounds, with onlookers pressed against the railings at the perimeters, a strange energy seems to play, which has an anger within, and a hunger. A primal force, which will brook no obstacle and will devour all in its path.


Deepta Roy Chakraverti Deepta Roy Chakraverti @deeptarc

The writer is a corporate lawyer and mathematician by training, a psychic investigator by calling and daughter of the celebrated Wiccan Ipsita Roy Chakraverti. She is also author of the bestselling debut book ‘Bhangarh to Bedlam: Haunted Encounters’ and 'Cursed at Kedarnath'.

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