Guwahati is a fast growing urban centre with increasing standards of living among the growing middle-class. This has resulted in a spurt of urban spaces as well, leading to a mushrooming of pandals across the city to celebrate Durga Puja, consequently accelerating the ecological footprint. It raises the question of how sustainable Durga Puja celebrations have become, in a city like Guwahati, in the present day.
The City of Today
There has been a significant change in the relation between idol making and the environment and culture of Guwahati. Years ago, clay used to be available easily in and around the city, before it was urbanised, as, there used to be agricultural fields in the place of buildings. Clay is now procured from the outskirts of the city. Because of general unavailability of wood and bamboo, it have even been stated that sellers sometimes engage in illegal retrieval of wood and bamboo from protected areas.
Responding to commercialisation and competition, murtikaars have increased the size range of their pratimas from 4 to 15 feet, whereas earlier sizes did not go beyond 8 feet. There has been a great deal of change in the clothing and ornamentation of the idols. It has been noticed, in the last few years, that synthetic and other fabric are used for clothing and various metals and other non-biodegradable substances are used for ornamentation. However, the earlier trend of cr