Goddess Durga’s idol made during Durga Puja is incomplete without the soil from the house of a sex worker. That too, the soil should be begged for and received from a prostitute’s hand as a gift or blessing by a priest. Can’t believe this? But it’s true. You might be wondering, what could be the possible reason for using some clay from brothel to make Maa Durga’s Idol for Navratri? Let us tell you why!
Every year when Durga Puja comes near, a certain Kumortuli in Kolkata is thrown into excitement. Kumortuli is the land of artisans in North Kolkata. They supply the idols to most of the pujas. They make the idols of Goddess Durga, along with Goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswati and Lords Ganesha and Kartikeya and it is a daunting task in itself.
For the entire puja to be auspicious, the idols need to be created with the right mixture of blessed soil. Mud from the banks of Ganges, cow dung and cow urine and a handful of soil from the nishiddho pallis go into making that blessed mixture. The soil is known as ‘punya mati’ and the place where a prostitute resides is known as ‘nishiddho pallis’ in Bengali meaning forbidden territories.
The question is where does one find this auspicious soil from a Nishiddho Palli?
They get it from Sonagachi. Sonagachi is Asia’s largest red light area located in north Kolkata. It is an area with several hundred multi-story brothels housing thousands of sex workers in cubby holes.
The reasons behind this custom of getting ‘punya mati’ from this forbidden territory are still unknown. But as it goes, the priest goes personally to nishiddho pallis on a special day just before the potters begin to start work on idols. Then the priest must beg for the soil from a sex worker and the prostitute would give it. And while the soil is being scooped and handed out, the priest must recite a particular mantra. This tradition is going on year after years.
But why is the soil from the land of Prostitutes considered auspicious during Durga Puja?
There is a belief that every man who visits the prostitutes for sex leave their purity and virtue outside the door thus making the soil in front of the home of a prostitute virtuous. So the mud there is considered pure and is collected. They also believe that Goddess Durga would be displeased if those who worship her, do not take the blessings of the prostitutes.
This custom is restricted to only Bengal. Goddess Durga Murti made in other regions does not strictly follow this custom.
What made to make this Custom?
People might have included this custom to include people who are outcasts during an important festival. Prostitutes who are not welcomed by the majority of the society are given importance through this act. Is it so that our forefathers considered them as Maa Durga who are ‘killing daily the demon’, ‘Kaam’ from our society? But this theory does not stand as the society that goes to collect mud from the doorstep of a prostitute conveniently forgets for the rest of the year that they exist in the society.
All of such rituals and customs remind us that to keep the entire world in balance, we need the support of one another, as everything in this universe is based on symbiosis.