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Villagers stumbled upon a rare and beautiful idol of Mahavira, believed to be dating back to the 9th-10th century AD while levelling a field at the Parahata village in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district. Villagers installed the three-feet-high idol, discovered five days ago, in the village temple. A couple of years ago, a one-foot high statue of the Buddha made of red brass was also found while a farmer was tilling his field.“A contractor required soil to level a canal road passing through our village. Bhaguni, a villager, volunteered to even out his field. When the bucket teeth of the earthmover hit some hard substance, we advised the earthmover’s operator not to apply force. Then we carefully dug the area around the statue and brought it out,” said Parahata villager Bhawani Panda.Villagers say they have come across many earthen pots and other unrecognisable earthen items while levelling the field. They wonder if a proper excavation would reveal more.“The idol is in standing position on a lotus pedestal. We generally find single idols of Mahavira. Statues with images of deities as well as devotees carved on stone were widely in circulation in the 9th-10th century AD,” said Sunil Patnaik, archaeologist with the Odisha Institute of Maritime and South-East Asian Studies.