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Carving a colossal image



The Idol of Goddess Mahishasura Mardini — Pic. by A. Shaikmohideen

THE COUNTENANCE of Goddess Mahishasura Mardini looks fearsome but graceful. The battle scene depicting the slaying of the Mahishasura by the Goddess, captured in panchaloka by the Nagercoil-based sculptors of the Viswabrahma Silpakala Nilayam, Krishnankoil, is claimed to be the world's biggest idol to be installed in the sanctum sanctorum of a Hindu temple.

Saying that he had to make minor deviations in the making of the huge panchaloka idol of Goddess Mahishasura Mardini measuring six feet in height and weighing 1000 kg, the chief sculptor N. Brahman added that he had however followed the Sastras. Along with the pedestal, the lion and Mahishasura at Her feet, the idol would measure 13 feet in height and would totally weigh about 3000 kg. It has been made as three separate pieces, comprising the Goddess, the lion and the Mahishasura, which would be assembled together on a pedestal in the garbagriha of Sri Raghunathji Maharaj Mandir, in Moradabad, soon.

Making the panchaloka idol of Goddess Mahishasura Mardini with 10 hands, was an arduous task and the wax model got damaged twice. It took nearly four years for Brahman, his brothers N. Muthumadaswamy, N. Sekar, N. Sakthi Prakash and seven assistants, to complete the idol. The work was completed on December 18, 2003. Before the idol was cast, the sculptors had to make a wax model and satisfy themselves that the idol would meet the specifications of Raghunath Maharaj who wanted to have the idol of the Goddess installed. Moreover, special attention was devoted to ensure that the wax model facilitated the making of the idol as per the rules laid down in the Silpa Sastra, claimed Brahman. The idol was cast after the wax mould was made for the third time. The idol was cast in the presence of Sivashankar Baba and the Mathaji of Sri Ujjain Mahakali Amman temple in Bhoothapandy, near Nagercoil.

Despite the fearsome posture, the Goddess Mahishasura Mardini is attractive and appears serene. The locks of the Goddess as also the ornaments and a snake around Her neck, the jewels on Her hands, the anklets and also the pleats of the sari have been dexterously etched. The Goddess is seen holding a discus in one of Her right hands and the swords, trishuls (spears) and mace in the other hands.

Nearly two decades ago, Raghunath Maharaj, a mahant of Moradabad aspired to install an idol of the Goddess Mahishasura Mardini but could not realise the dream in his lifetime as neither he nor his disciples could find a sculptor who could make the idol. His disciple Mahaveer Prasad later came to Nagercoil looking for a sculptor, and found Brahman. The latter agreed to make the idol and the work order was issued on November 29, 1999.

"It cost nearly Rs.6 lakhs to make the idol alone and out of it I had to spend Rs. 2 lakhs from my own pocket to complete it, says Brahman. He claims another Rs. 1 lakh was required to make the weapons especially the swords and spears. Altogether the idol including the lion, Mahishasura, the pedestal and labour would cost Rs.17 lakhs. At present a gold covering (mask) for the face of the Goddess and Thiruvatchi (ornamental arch erected on the base around the idol) are being made. The idol left for Moradabad recently.

J. V. SIVA PRASANNA KUMAR

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