After tablets, Assam artiste uses COVID vax ampoules to create Durga idol

GUWAHATI, Oct 11: If expired tablets and capsules were showcased to spread the message of cleanliness last year, this time it is about empty ampoules to inspire people to get two jabs of the COVID-19 vaccine as a precaution against the pandemic.

Known for his unique creations every festive season, Sanjib Basak, a field officer with the Dhubri district disaster management authority by profession, collected about 8000 empty ampoules of the Covishield vaccine from the state health department to create an idol of Goddess Durga in a month’s time.

“The idea is to send the message of the importance of getting two jabs of the COVID-19 vaccine to fight the pandemic, especially at a time when the government has been arranging free camps to vaccinate people. It came about following a discussion with the deputy commissioner who suggested that since I had made idols using medical waste last year, this time empty ampoules could be used for the same,” Basak told The Shillong Times on Monday.

“However, I had to take the advice of health officers from the immunisation and vaccination departments to ensure that there were no adverse effects after sterilisation of the empty vaccine ampoules,” he said.

The Durga idol, made of the empty Covishield ampoules, will be on display from Maha Saptami to Dashami at the Police Reserve Field in Dhubri.

A master degree holder in fine arts, Basak had in July this year created another Durga idol using COVID injections as well.

“This idol made of syringes will be on display at the Swami Vivekananda Club Durga Puja Committee (Dhubri) while another one, made of expired tablets/capsules last year, will be on display at Pabitra Sangha Durga Puja Committee in Gauripur respectively,” Basak, who has over past few years been driven by his passion to create theme-based, unique idols, said.

The 38-year-old artist, who runs a fine arts school in Dhubri, had to bear the cost of items such as wood, clothes, adhesives and other miscellaneous items to create the unique idols.

“The passion for unique and theme-based Durga idols will keep me going ahead of every festive season,” he said, when asked what kept him inspired to sustain the creative “part-time” activity amid the pandemic.

Apart from accolades from several quarters, Basak had made it to the Assam Book for Records in 2019 when he made a Durga idol using electrical waste (wire) weighing 160 kilograms.

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