Tapas Sandilya, a 65-year-old former government employee, said her late wife had once expressed the desire of having a statue of herself if she died before him.
By: Shubham Ghosh
An elderly man in Kolkata in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal has paid a tribute to his wife, who passed away during the deadly second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, by installing her life-size silicone statue at their home.
The 65-year-old Tapas Sandilya, who worked as a government employee, placed the statue weighing 30 kilograms (kg) on a sofa at the favourite spot of Indrani, his late wife, in the house.
A silk saree, which Indrani wore on the occasion of the wedding reception of the couple’s son, has been neatly draped on the statue. Sandilya has also adorned it with his late wife’s favourite gold jewellery. He reportedly spent Rs 2.5 lakh (£2,522) to set up the statue.
Speaking to India’s Times of India daily, Sandilya said he got the idea of installing the statue from the ISKCON Temple in Mayapur in Bengal and that her wife had expressed before him the desire of having a similar statue of herself if she died before her husband.
“We visited the ISKCON temple in Mayapur a decade ago and could not stop admiring the life-size statue of the order’s founder, AC Bhaktivedanta Swami. It was then Indrani had told me of her desire for a similar statue (of hers) if she happened to pass away before me,” Sandilya was quoted as saying.
Indrani died on May 4, 2021, and her husband started working towards fulfilling her wish.
He approached Subimal Das, who is an expert in making silicone replicas for museums.
Das said it was “absolutely necessary” for Indrani’s statue to have a realistic facial expression and hence it took six months to complete it. He also said while it is easier to maintain silicone structures compared to wax statues, the latter can be more realistic to view.
Sandilya also faced resistance from other members of the family while executing his dream project but eventually they gave in.
However, his wife’s statue has not been able to mitigate Sandilya’s pain of losing the person. “I was in isolation at home when Indrani was taken to a hospital in south Kolkata. I can never forget that. But the 30-kg installation gives the feeling that she is always with me,” he told the daily, adding, “I will live with that.”