Goddess Durga has a fibreglass ‘avatar’ in Mizoram and it has much to do with slaying the demon of ecological degradation.There are very few temples in Mizoram, where 87% of the population is Christian. Of the 13 that are managed by the Central Gorkha Mandir Committee, five are in Aizawl.Until about a decade ago, the Durga Puja celebration in these temples was similar to that in adjoining Assam and Tripura — installing clay idols of the Goddess and members of her family and immersing them on Vijaya Dasami.But things changed in 2011. Cutting costs — the idols had to be brought from southern Assam’s Silchar about 190 km north — was a factor. But the bigger reason was to stop adding chemical colours and other pollutants to the hill river systems.“That year, we switched to the images of the Goddess and her entourage printed on flex. We used a dollop of earth as a symbolic idol for worshipping, used all biodegradable material to conduct the puja and immersed them in the streams and rivers as per the convenience of each temple administration,” Uday Kumar, the committee’s president told The Hindu.Five years later, the committee members realised that the non-biodegradable flex were also prone to tearing.“In 2016, we decided to change to a fibreglass idol. The bigger temple at Bawngkawn has a 5ft idol while the one at Om Mandir in Thuampui, our locality, is smaller,” said Pratap Chhetri, a local resident and State government employee.The locality has some 120 Gurkha families. About 20,000 of Mizoram’s 1.12 million people are Gurkhas, mostly descendants of soldiers the British had brought along 120 years ago.Mr. Kumar said each fibreglass Durga idol is stored in a consecrated place within the temple complex after the Puja and brought out for the next year’s celebration. “You can say we don’t throw our Mother Goddess away after we are through with worshipping her. She is always around us,” he said.