Shontu lived in his dilapidated ancestral home in one of the labyrinthine bylanes of Varanasi. He was an idolmaker, a seventh generation one, and the fifth son of his father. While all his elder brothers had got into different professions, Shontu continued to carry forward the legacy of his forefathers – for he loved his craft, and more than that he was an ardent devotee of the Mother Goddess – Durga, whose idol he created with such love every year for the Durga Puja festival.
As he crafted her magnificent form from clay and painted it with care and devotion, working painstakingly day and night, every stroke of the brush created a magical bond between him and the divine mother. Shontu knew he would not give up this work for anything else in the world, despite his impoverished existence.
Always it would happen, as he gave the final strokes of paint to her beautiful eyes that transfixes the world, tears would flow down his own eyes – not the least because he knew his creation would be immersed in the waters of the river, on the last day of the festival. As his heart surged with love, the deepest and purest part of him, gave life to the idol. Just as her divine feminine energy gives life to everything – from a little leaf to the mighty Himalayas, without which every matter is inert and dead; she comes alive in a clay idol because of the pure love of a devotee.
After the local organisers of the festival take the idol of the goddess and place her in a grand structure, the thousands who gather to pay their obeisance are awestruck by her life-like manifestation. They do not know that it is not just the skills of a mastercraftsman which has created the magic, but the devotion in his heart that has given life to the live-giver of the universe.
Just in time before my trip to Varanasi next week! Thanks Sudipta!
Have a great trip Viveka.