By Alokananda Ghosh
While the Jagannath Rath Yatra is celebrated prominently in Odisha, it has a deep significance in one of the major festivals in Bengal.
Ritualistically, the kathamo puja is done on the Rathyatra day – idol makers start building the bamboo structure, that is then covered with straw and clay on the day of the Rath Yatra. With changing times and commercial demands, for most idol makers this is just another day as preparations start way ahead. In families where tradition still rules, the Rath Yatra marks the beginning of the celebrations that culminate in the five day splendor that this Durga Puja.
Another interesting fact, that is restricted to Bengal, is that the idol of the goddess is considered incomplete without the soil from the house of a sex worker. The belief is that the soil should be begged for and received as a gift or blessing. The soil is then used in the preparation of the idol.
This tradition perhaps originated in a bid to bring in a feeling of inclusiveness during the Pujas. It is also believed that those who visit the prostitutes leave their purity and virtue outside the door thus making the soil outside the home virtuous.
The soil is thus known as ‘punya mati’ and is considered an essential ingredient for idol making.
Photo Courtesy: Pujita Dutta Banik