Maa Annapurna’s idol on its way back to India after 100 years: All you need to know!

The idol of Maa Annapurna, the goddess of food, is the 18th-century idol which is carved in the Benares style. It was stolen in 1913 from an active temple in Varanasi. 

Created On: Dec 4, 2020 12:51 ISTModified On: Dec 4, 2020 12:51 IST
Maa Annapurna idol return to India

Prime Minister Modi while addressing the public on Dev Deepawali Mahotsav on November 30, 2020, informed that the statue of Maa Annapurna which was stolen over 100 years ago is returning to its original home in Varanasi, India.

In his address, the Prime Minister noted that it is a matter of great fortune that Maa Annapurna will be coming back to her original home and acknowledged that the statues of deities are part of our priceless legacy.

In the 71st episode of his monthly radio programme ‘Mann ki Baat’, PM Modi also explained the connection of Maa Annapurna to Varanasi and mentioned that every Indian must feel proud that an ancient idol is being brought back from Canada.

Valuing country’s heritage:

Prime Minister Modi while mentioning the statues of deities as a part of India’s priceless legacy stated that it is true that if such efforts would have been made earlier, India would have got back many such stolen idols. For the government, heritage means the country’s heritage, our culture, and our faith. He further added but for some other people, heritage means their family's name and their photos.

How Maa Annapurna’s idol reached Canada?

The idol of Maa Annapurna, the goddess of food, is the 18th-century idol which is carved in the Benares style. Currently, it is a part of Regina University, collection at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Canada.

In 2019, artist Divya Mehra was invited to stage an exhibition at the art gallery. She began to research the collection where one sculpture which was thought to represent Lord Vishnu struck her as female. The idol was holding a bowl of rice. While looking into records, Mehra found that the same sculpture was stolen in 1913 from an active temple and was acquired by MacKenzie.

The statue of Maa Annapurna holds a bowl of kheer in one hand while a spoon in the other hand. These items are also associated with the goddess of food, who is also a deity of Varanasi.

According to Mehra’s research, MacKenzie had noticed the statue in 1913 during a trip to India. At that time, a stranger heard MacKenzie’s wish of having the statue and stole it for him from the temple in Varanasi.

When the statue will return to India?

The statue of Maa Annapurna will start its journey to India in December 2020 while the virtual repatriation ceremony has already taken place on November 19. The vice-chancellor of Regina University, Thomas Chase informed that as a university, we have a responsibility of making historical wrongs right and to help overcome the damaging legacy of colonialism wherever possible.

What will happen after the statue reaches India?

The statue of Maa Annapurna is expected to land in Delhi in mid-December. A thorough verification and documentation will also be done after which its final custody will be decided. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has been tasked with the security arrangements at the idol’s original location which is Varanasi before handing it back to the trustees at the temple.

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