KOLKATA (TIP): In a first-of-its-kind touch to the season’s festivities, the idol of the goddess Durga was covered with diamond jewellery in a display worth Rs 10 crore, bringing an added sparkle to the puja celebrations of millions of devotees and revellers here.

The pandal at the Shreebhumi Sporting Club Durga Puja in the eastern suburbs of Kolkata attracted people in millions, who jostled with each other for elbow room just to catch a glimpse of the deity and her four children – Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kartik and Ganesha –adorned in diamonds.

The particular puja committee, that is known for its extravagant displays and had decorated the idols in gold worth Rs 5 crore last year, outdid itself this time after it tied up with Nemichand Bamalwa and Sons (NCB), a leading jewellery chain.

“The crowns of all the five deities are diamond studded to bring the glittering effect. Even the nose rings and earrings of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati have been crafted out of diamonds to add an extra touch,” said D K Goswami, the club’s general secretary.

Bachraj Bamalwa from NCB told a news agency that the ornaments adorning Durga alone are worth nearly Rs 5 crore. “While her crown is the biggest, she has also been adorned with nose and ear rings, bangles and a 30-inch diamond necklace. The other idols have also been adorned with diamond-studded crowns,” he said.

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Trinamool Congress MLA Sujit Bose, the driving force behind the Puja, said that this is the first time that diamond jewellery has been used in any such Puja pandal. “We have created a record of sorts. I don’t think anywhere such a thing has been done anywhere in the country,” he said, adding that the ornaments will be taken off before the idols are taken for immersion. While Bose said the average daily footfall at the pandal had already crossed the 10 lakh mark by Monday, the Shreebhumi Sporting Club has become one of the most popular Durga Puja destination in the city with visitors’ pictures of the diamond-studded idols becoming a rage on social networking sites. The pandal’s popularity and the decorations worth Rs 10 crore also mean that the club will have the tightest security till the festive season ends on Saturday. Organisers have sought the help of the city police with around two dozen policemen marking the security cordon. “We have also arranged for more than 50 private security guards and installed CCTV cameras in and around the pandal to keep an eye 24×7,” the TMC legislator said. A similar fortress is the Durga Puja pandal at the Ekdalia Evergreen Club in Gariahat, where the idols have been decorated with around 18 kg of gold.

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