Kolkata: The common tradition of Goddess Durga idol prepared by sculptors has been witnessed by all but a rare practice of keeping the goddess safe in a bank locker is an unusual phenomenon.

The idol of Goddess Durga at Joypur Princely state in Purulia is kept secured in the bank locker for the whole year and is taken out for worship only during the five-day Durga Puja festival. Once the devotees take her blessings, the goddess returns to her safe abode.

The reason for such cautious measures for the safety of the deity can be explained from its composition of 960 grams of gold and 60 kilograms of silver. According to the Rajbari (the royal family), the traditional idol is kept in the State Bank of India locker for 360 days of the year. The time for taking out and keeping the idol back in the locker is kept secret while the procedure takes place in the presence of armed policemen.

The main portion of the idol is made of gold while the backside has been created in silver and is said to have been styled on the Mahamaya Kanak Durga idol in Varanasi.

Alike its interesting present, the gold idol has a glorious history to remember.  The Rajbari reveals that the location of the current place of worship, Kharag was turned to ashes in a massive fire in the 18th century. King Jai Singh had conquered Kharag by defeating the tribal leader Khamar Munda. The king however continued the ongoing tradition of the worship of Goddess Shakti. The fifth descendant Kashinath Singh got the idol casted in gold and silver and started the tradition of Durga Puja festival.

Interestingly, there was an attempt to rob the idol from the family safe in 1970, but it was hidden by the royal members. Since then the idol has sat in a bank vault in Purulia town. The precious idol is termed auspicious and is a much desired antique. 

The people claimed that there was a ritual of sacrificing a buffalo fifteen years back but now goats are sacrificed on the day of Mahasaptami.

JPN/Bureau