City Faith – Durga’s Leftover Paris, Matri Mandir, Safdarjang Enclave
The goddess of the Paris Opera.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It’s France. It’s Paris. It’s Palais Garnier.
It’s India. It’s Delhi. It’s Matri Mandir.
One day after the conclusion of Durga Puja, The Delhi Walla enters the Matri Mandi temple grounds in Central Delhi’s Safdarjang Enclave. There is no longer the crowd of Bengali worshippers of Durga. The tent erected to house the godess during the ten days of puja, however, is still standing. This year the theme after which the festival’s camp, or pandal, was modeled for the celebrations was the aforementioned Paris Opera building. The tent is still decked with decorations: chandeliers, renaissance-era paintings, gilded panels, a grand stairway (it is actually part of the temple’s original architecture), and a large statue of Marianne, the symbol of the French republic.
The white Marianne is facing the makeshift shrine to Durga. But Durga’s statue has already been taken off and ritually immersed in the polluted waters of the Yamuna. The stage is empty save for a banner saying: “Spicejet wishes you a Happy Durga Puja”.
A few chairs are scattered around the ground. A chandelier is being brought down from the roof of the tent.
Soon France will be dismantled.
What will become of Marianne?
A week ago, a much-loved tree in Alliance Française de Delhi was disposed off because it had already died and there were fears it could fall any time (click for that story here). That void could be filled by Marianne.
Je t’aime Durga