Calcutta is full of symbols. Or at least that’s what I feel, when I look out of the window. I can’t tell whether it’s because I’m essentially still a foreigner trying to understand this place or whether I’m just trying to read too much into what the general population take for granted.
This morning, on the way to school with my daughter, we came across an abandoned idol of Kali, the goddess of destruction and righteousness! Our driver tells me that idols are only dumped in Calcutta and everywhere else they are immersed into the sea or nearest river, with ceremony and reverence. Does that mean that Calcutta is less reverent towards the holy? Have the Hindus, this side of the Ganges decided that nothing is to be revered, not even the idea of a dignified farewell?
Perhaps I’m missing the point though, when I see her standing amidst the mud and waste of ongoing construction work, disheveled and alone. I’ve personified her, when in actual fact she really is just a symbol for the destruction of evil…What I mean to say is that idols, images are only representations of what we choose to believe. Once their purpose is served, we can discard them. What remains holy is the idea, not the image.
But I could not help feeling a little sorry for the abandoned Goddess in her rags. For all her rage and strength, she was still alone. I don’t know, perhaps she prefers it that way.