Kumartuli – The makers of Goddesses and Gods

It is quite intriguing that narrow, dim lit lanes and bylanes of Kumartuli in Kolkata are the creative hub for the most joyous and grand festival of the city – Durga Puja.

Most idols for the big and small festival installations (locally called pandals) are created here by artisans/potters who have been in this vocation for generations.

It is quite symbolic that the idols of gods and goddesses are made out of humble straw and black clay (river silt) in these small confined and constricted spaces before they go into the world to be revered and worshipped by all.

The budget for this festival runs into lakhs and area that amass in the city is huge. The festival runs for nearly 10 days and it leads to huge cyclic economy flow – from haves to have-nots and back to haves. Everyone is happy for a while and thinks it is the blessing of the goddess.

Thus the cycle continues. Neither the economic nor working conditions of the artisans has changed drastically over years but yet they make the image of the goddesses and gods with utmost sincerity and dedication. They don’t seem to question the goddesses about the inequality.

Maybe art thrives in these narrow lanes and bylanes of Kumartuli because artists and idol-makers here thrive on art. They don’t seek fame or luxuries. Their creativity keeps them going…or does it?

Thanks to all idol-makers and artists of Kumartuli who allow photographers to invade their working space to document them and their work in progress.

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