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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Kumartuli—The Workshop Of The God Makers In Kolkata! And Durga Puja!


Kumartuli or Kumortuli is located in the northern part of the city of Kolkata. The locality is a traditional habitat of the potters for nearly three hundred years. The potters or the artisans or the artists settled here during the restructuring of the Kolkata colonial region by the British East India Company. Earning a livelihood by making earthen pots and utensils first they gradually shifted to the making of the idols of Gods and Goddesses for various festivals round the year. 

With increasing demand and quality of their creations over time the artisans became famous and Kumartuli came to be known as the hub of idol makers supplying thousands of idols, particularly of Goddess Durga, to whole of the state of West Bengal and to NRIs of around 90 countries across the globe.

At least three months before Durga Puja, the biggest festival of West Bengal and one of the biggest across Eastern India, more than five hundred workshops come alive with hyper activity day and night. First, the artists make the structures of the Goddess with straw and bamboo, and then prepare the clay collected from River Hooghly that runs alongside. Painting, colouring, decoration, clothing cum ornamentation and finishing follow. They have to complete the process at least one week before the Puja—the day of Mahalaya which falls on Monday, the 8th of October in 2018 when devotees and organizers shift the idols from the workshop to the places of worship.

Their idols are safe and eco-friendly thanks to the use of only clay, straw and bamboo unlike the use of plaster of Paris by many other idol-makers in India. Their locality is a sight worth seeing ahead of Durga Puja and it is a paradise for photographers. During evenings the atmosphere here at Kumartuli in its maze of congested lanes and by-lanes gets charged and surrealistic with its ‘heavenly’ illuminated workshops in the thralls of activity. 

The artisans are very strict and rightly so; they won’t allow you to enter into their workshops, you will have to stand in the doorway and watch or take photos to your heart’s content. Of course, you can speak to them and engage in short conversations.

Although the prices of idols are increasing every year the quality of life of the potters’ are not quite keeping pace. They still live in various stages of poverty; their houses old and congested, their streets and lanes dirty, and an overpowering stench normally prevails in various corners of the alleys. It is a normal practice and a pity that the Puja organizers spend lavishly on decoration, publicity and overall show values, but always try to economise when it comes to paying the artisans for the idols.

Once in the city of Kolkata, erstwhile Calcutta, you can visit Kumartuli very easily. It is located in a prime area of the city approachable from all corners by cabs or buses or the trains. The nearest Kolkata Metro railway station is Shobhbazar. And of course, you need not adhere to any religion to visit and enjoy this place. You can visit this place for the sheer aesthetics, the beauty, the ambiance and the values of humanity.  





Happy Durga Puja-2018 ! 
Goddess Durga descends on earth on 15th October, 2018! 
Enjoy true souls, and beware sinners !


                                                                               
         
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