Think Kolkata! You think hand-pulled rickshaws, those yellow taxis which are the city’s lifeline and the ever standing tall Howrah bridge. As the season of festivities arrives Kumartuli in Kolkata is one of the happening place where one can see the clay models of the mother goddess Durga idols being handcrafted. These skilled hands gives life to Dashabhuja Durga, the creators simply leave you spellbound every time you see their creation. Keeping pace with their super busy schedule, drapped in soiled lungi the artisans give shape to these deity’s in their cramped workshops.
The settlement of this place Kumartuli, meaning “potter locality” (Kumar = potter, Tuli = locality) dates back to more than 300 years old. Formed by a bunch of potters who came here is search of a better livelihood is now home to around 150 families who live here.
The artisans work 24/7 in their workshops to complete the idols of Durga in time for the festival. The narrow lanes and alleyways comes to life and humanity and god all are seen under one roof in various states of creation. They use entel maati, a particular type of clay that is found on the bed of the Hooghly River.
The popular beliefs goes is that the Ganga mud is mixed with cow dung with a handful of soil that is brought from the nishiddho pallis (the forbidden area: Kumartuli to is Sonagachi) and the final mixture is used to make the idol. This tradition is going on year after years.
Seeing the artisans craft such intricate beauties it reveals a fascinating world within that small little potter town of Kolkata. One would simply be left marveled over the intricate detailing and the hard work that goes in, in creating such a beauty – the idols of Goddess Durga. This place becomes the prime base for all idol being made that goes to all far off land.
With the onset of Devipaksha or the time ascribed to the worship of the female power of the Devi Kolkata comes to life and it’s then when these Kumartuli artisans are all busy to catch a breather as they burn the midnight lamp to give the last best shot and touches to the idols of Durga and her offspring Kartikeya, Ganesa, Laxmi and Saraswati.
The lanes of Kumartuli gets a new renewed vigour as they contribute to the quintessentially significant element for the worship of the deity. Kolkata gets wrapped in the colours of celebration as its uniform civil code. If you love art, you shouldn’t just miss visiting Kumartuli to soak into the whole experience.