Artisans of Kolkata’s Kumartuli gear up for overseas deliveries of idols months ahead of Durga Puja

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Kolkata, Jul 11 (PTI) Durga Puja, West Bengal’s biggest festival, is almost three months away but potters’ hub Kumartuli in north Kolkata is already abuzz with activity, as artisans diligently sculpt idols to deliver overseas orders on time.

With meticulous attention, idols of the goddess are being crafted in different sizes to cater to orders from puja organisers abroad.

Durga Puja will be celebrated this year from October 9-13.

Renowned clay modeller Kaushik Ghosh is burning the midnight oil sculpting an over eight-foot fibreglass idol for the London Durgotsav Committee in Camden.

"At least 36 idols will be sent to countries such as the UK, US, Japan, UAE, Russia, and Singapore this year. Half of this consignment will be dispatched by this month, via sea or air, while the remainder will follow by August," Ghosh said.

"We are committed to maintaining the 'sabeki' (traditional) look of Maa Durga in every idol. However, we are adding some unique touches. For instance, the Camden puja will feature an 'ekchala' idol where the goddess and her offspring are integrated into a single structure," he explained.

Another artisan Mintu Pal is busy crafting idols for 21 overseas puja committees. Eleven images have already been shipped to countries such as the US, Germany, Canada, France, Spain, Switzerland and Dubai, he said.

"Six idols have been sent to the US, where Bengali expatriates in various states celebrate the festival fervently. Similarly, Bengali communities in Germany and Switzerland show equal enthusiasm for Durga Puja," Pal said.

Clay modeller Mantu Paul said one of his idols has already been dispatched to Florida in the US, with work progressing swiftly on two more bound for the same destination.

"In the coming weeks, idols will be shipped to Germany, Canada and Australia," Paul said.

In total, the craftsmen estimate that at least 100 idols from Kumartuli will be dispatched to foreign locations this year.

Mantu Paul has also set aside two finished 'ekchala’ idols, each about 3 feet tall, for organisers interested in smaller Durga images.

"These clay idols, priced at approximately Rs 15,000 each, are available for purchase by Bengali associations or groups of friends," he said.

The artisans are also making use of online platforms for preliminary bookings, which are followed by detailed signing procedures.

Organisers or their representatives are required to visit the studios at least once to finalise the arrangements.

"While some local organisers have deviated from the traditional 'sanatani roop' (traditional look) of Maa Durga, those residing abroad or outside West Bengal are unwavering in their reverence for the deity," emphasised Paul, who has over 50 years of experience in this craft. PTI SUS RBT

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