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Durga idols immersed in the Thames

india Updated: Oct 05, 2006 12:36 IST

For a brief moment, the Thames was turned into the river Ganga as carefully crafted idols of Goddess Durga - created at the British Museum by craftsmen from India - were immersed amidst a large gathering of Indians on Tuesday.

The Thames in suburban Putney in south London was first 'purified' with water from the Ganga, and then the ornate idols were immersed as per traditional norms - after special permission was granted by the Port of London authority.

The 10 feet idols were created by Bengali master craftsmen who were commissioned to create them in London as part of the British Museum's autumn exhibitions programme, Voices of Bengal.

The idols were prepared with clay and straw and had been on display for more than a month as part of a tableau at the British Museum's Great Court. British Museum and the London Durga Puja and Dusserah Committee, which organises events for the festival, commissioned the sculpture.

The Durga tableau left the British Museum last week to go to the Camden Centre where Durga Puja was celebrated by the local Bengal community. The event was filmed for a Channel Five documentary.

A British Museum spokesman said: "This is a unique event. We managed to get permission from the port authority to do something that has not been done before."

The event in Putney, however, baffled some residents. One resident told The Express: "It was all very entertaining but rather extraordinary. There were a number of effigies in brightly-coloured saris floating down the river but no one really understood what was going on. They seemed to be having a nice time, though."

Meanwhile, in Leicester - a town in the east Midlands with a large minority of Indian origin, a large gathering witnessed Dussehra festivities, including fireworks, at the Cossington Street recreation ground, in Belgrave.

A 20 feet statue of Ravana was consigned to flames as part of the festivities.

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