Report: Pradip Mohanty
Puri, the land of festivals and festivities celebrate ‘Dussehra’ or Durga Puja in a different style altogether. Here, the Durga Puja is popularly known as ‘Gosani Jatra’, which is indigenous by nature and it has its origin in the folk culture. Several clay idols representing Mahisamardini Durga are being made and worshipped during this festival. Gosani figures and faces are different to the Durga idols made in Kolkata and Cuttack. Each Gosani Idol creates an impression that Devi is closely watching Mahisasura and engaged in fierce fighting. The figure of Demon in most cases is depicted in theomorphic form like head is of the buffalo and the body is of human being. These Images look vibrant with bold expression and are unique of its kind.
The decoration of these Gosani Images is also different to Durga Idols of other localities. Originally, these images are being decorated with traditional Sola and Jari work. After the Idols are made, the artists draw a ‘Devi Yantra’ on the chest of the image and cover it by cladding new clothes around the body of the goddess.
The names of these Gosanis also look like folk names. Some of the most important names of Gosanis worshipped in Puri are Kakudikhai, Janhikhai, Barabati, Janhimundia, Sunya Gosani, Hadabai, Gelabai, Belabai and others. During Gosani Yatra, different types of other clay figures Ravana lifting Kailash mountain, Demons, Ghosts, Nagas, wooden toys etc. are also worshipped. Like Gosanis, gigantic images of Naga are also made and worshipped during the festival. These large male images symbolise heroism and valour. The Naga images represent the Akhada culture of Puri.
Puri has witnessed around 25 Gosanis and 10-12 Nagas this year.