The attraction of small things lies in our desire for mastery and elucidation
Posted 23.11.21, 02:52 AM
My Taiwanese friend Tsung-Chi Cheng took me to Window On China Theme Park in Longtan District of Taiwan which boasts intricate miniatures of some of the architectural wonders of the world – replicas of Taiwan’s famous Longshan Temple. , the Beijing City ban, Stonehenge in England, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Statue of Liberty, the Lincoln Memorial, the Japanese Seven-story Pagoda of Nara and, of course, our own Taj Mahal, among others – all built on site in a scale of 1:25. The theme park owner may have been inspired by Madurodam, a seven-decade-old Dutch miniature park that is the most famous in the world.
Why miniatures? The dazzling of the little things is special. The stories of Tom Thumb, Thumbelina or Buro Angla continue to appeal to people. Downsizing is exciting; a 145-foot-high replica of a skyscraper from a distant land (the Burj Khalifa was reproduced as a Durga Puja pandal) can attract the attention of the public that eclipses that of the original 2,722-foot structure. However, downsizing is not without its problems. In his 2018 book, In miniature: how little things light up the world, British journalist and author, Simon Garfield, provided a delightful and enlightening investigation into our particular fascination with small size and what the little things tell us about the world at large. Garfield explored the history, art, and psychology behind the creation of a scaled-down world. Subsequently, in an article by The GuardianGarfield reiterated that the call “lies in our desire for mastery and elucidation. The ability to improve a life by bringing reduced order and enlightenment to an otherwise chaotic world – a world over which we might otherwise think we have little control – cannot be overstated. “
A miniature park is a collection of miniature buildings and models, usually built for tourism purposes. Some attempts to build such structures have also been made in India – at the 33rd India International Trade Fair 2013 in Pragati Maidan, students from Lovely Professional University displayed a representation of 600 acres of their campus at the ‘scale 1:40. In an effort to promote tourism, the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation is planning to create a miniature park on the Mysore-Bangalore highway before tourists reach the city to inform visitors of what to expect.
Although there are many such miniature parks in different countries, we do not yet have one on a large scale in Calcutta. Of course, you can find a pyramid or a replica of the Eiffel Tower in some amusement parks or a replica of the Big Ben in the city. But do we really need a large scale miniature park in or near Calcutta? What we have instead is rather special and, perhaps, unique – a dynamic miniature representation of the wonders of the world during the city’s biggest festival, Durga Puja. Models of the world’s greatest tourist attractions – from Angkor Wat, Meenakshi Temple and the Pyramid of Giza to the ancient or medieval fortresses of Karnataka or Rajasthan, and virtually every structure imaginable is recreated with the utmost care and attention. immense passion, spending a lot of money, to attract millions of people. It is an annual miniature park, indeed. Temporary, changing and full of surprises every time.
Atanu Biswas is professor at the Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta