The Vatican with its imposing St. Peter’s Basilica and artistic treasures of medieval Europe has come to Kolkata, as a city-based club created a replica of the famous church complete with statues and frescos to house its Durga idol this year.
The splendid work of artistry which has become the talk of the city took craftsmen more than two months to complete. Sreebhumi Sporting Club near Lake Town, situated on the northern fringes of Kolkata, has created quite a frenzy among people as it themed its Durga Puja Pandal on the St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City this year.
St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the most renowned works of Renaissance architecture. It is often regarded as the greatest building of its age.
The replica of St. Peter’s Basilica has become a must-visit destination for puja revellers and pandal hoppers. The marquee has simply left people awestruck, even from other faiths.
“I went to the pandal recently and was happy to see that the replica was very nicely done. In that way, the puja organisers have shown love and respect to another religion,” Father Naveen Taoro, a priest of St. Teresa’s Church in the city’s Moulali area, said.
Father Taoro, who had visited the Vatican, thinks it is a great opportunity for the people who have never been there.
“The marquee looks exactly like the Vatican. The organisers have kept every detail intact and I am really happy about it. In this way, the puja organisers are educating people about the Vatican,” he said.
The public craze has been noticeable over the last couple of days as people belonging to different age groups and from all walks of life poured in at Lake Town bus stop, the place from where one has to walk down towards the Sreebhumi Durga puja pandal.
Sixty-year-old Baby Das was full of enthusiasm as she walked from Lake Town towards Sreebhumi.
”I will not go pandal hopping… my age does not permit it anymore. But I was keen on visiting this particular puja,” she said.
West Bengal has very creative minds, said Father PV Thomas, Salesians of Don Bosco, Calcutta Province, after visiting the pandal.
“I am amazed by the artistic creation, the meticulous work. It is very similar to St. Peter’s Basilica. I had the fortune of visiting the Vatican more than once. This is surely a piece of art,” he added.
It took 70 artisans 75 days to build the replica of the St. Peter’s Basilica, said Romeo Hazra, the artist of the club.
“A gentleman, who is a Christian by faith, had come to the puja pandal a few days ago. He said he had come from Baranagar (in north Kolkata) and he was so happy to see the pandal and the Durga idol inside it,” Hazra said.
“I grew up in an environment where we have learnt to accept and tolerate each other’s faith. I too accept every religion. The puja organisers’ concept sends that message. I have no problem with it at all,” a teacher with a catholic school in Hooghly district, Philomena Thomas, said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurated the puja almost a week ago and soon after, people have been thronging the marquee to get a glimpse of the replica of the church in the Vatican City.
Work for St. Peter’s Basilica began by Pope Julius II in 1506 and was completed in 1615 under Paul V. It is designed as a three-aisled Latin cross with a dome at the crossing, directly above the high altar, which covers the shrine of St. Peter the Apostle.
The chief patron of the Sreebhumi Sporting Club’s Durga puja is West Bengal Fire and Emergency Services Minister Sujit Bose. In 2021, the puja committee created a replica of the Burj Khalifa building in Dubai. The pandal was shut down from the Ashtami day after a crowd thronged the place throwing traffic out of gear on the arterial VIP Road.