The fashion designers of the country might seek inspiration from the West, but when it comes to artisans who make Durga idols, the choice remains highly ‘desi’. From Benarsi to Rajasthani, the themes that they are exploring seem to be inspired by the ‘Make in India’ concept.
Amidst a treasure trove of idols one can spot some unusual figures too. “These durga idols are made keeping in mind the Rajasthani theme,” says 20-year-old artisan Raghunath Pal. The one he points out to, has a a balloon-shaped gown around the waist, which will eventually be painted to look like a fine Rajasthani ghagra. “This will be painted in bronze colour,” says Pal. He adds, “We have to create the idols as demanded by the puja organisers, and we give it our best as these Durga idols then compete with each other for prizes.”
Inside the dimly lit makeshift stalls, at Chittaranjan Park’s Kali Bari Mandir, there are several idols being made for not just Durga Puja but even Kali Puja (which is held on Diwali). “Idols for about 50 Durga Pujas are made in our temple complex,” says Santi Mazumder, vice-president Chittaranjan Park Kali Mandir Society.
After sculpting, the idols are painted according to the themes that the puja organisers provide the artisans in advance. Bitto Ghosh, a 20-year-old artist near Chandralok Cinema, gives an idol Banarsi touch though his painting. He says, “I have been painting idols since childhood. This one I’m working on is based on the Banarsi-theme. That’s why the colours we have chosen include bright red and yellow, which are often seen in Banarsi silk-saris.” He also keeps a coloured photograph as reference, while working. “This is how the final 5 chala (5-piece) pandal will look like when ready,” Ghosh explains.
The tallest sculpture made in the Kali Bari Mandir is created with much detailing in Indian motifs and measures 18 feet. “It is for a puja in RK Puram,” informs Pal.
At the make shift tent in Chandralok Cinema, 47-year-old Maunik Paul directs his artisans to paint with caution.“We make idols for 40-42 puja pandals every year. Each has a concept that we adhere to,” says Paul adding that the mud is brought from Punjab and West Bengal, following the traditional process. “To make one Durga idol, five workers take about 15 to 20 days and to ensure that the nowadays popular theme idols are created, we need to invest more time,” says Paul.