“The soft perfume of ‘shiuli’ (Night-flowering Jasmine), glimpse of swaying ‘kash ful’ (Saccharum spontaneum) in the meadows, chanting of mantras and wide azure sky awakens you and say, “Ma Durga is at your door”. Needless to say that each of us feels the same as this spirit of ecstasy fills up our heart.”
Ma Durga getting decked up at her abode, Kumartuli (the potters’ hub). With swift and dexterous moves, the potters working at frenzied pace to give the idols the traditional look. This is that hub of North Kolkata where Goddess Durga and her family get impeccably sculpted in straw and clay. Many of us call this place to be the ‘nerve center’. Flanked by huge workshops, packed with idols of Durga and her family, craftsmen working day in and day out – yes this is the place where our goddess gets decked up. If you are visiting the place for the first time, I can bet that you can ever imagine that there lies the paradise inside the narrow lane.
Stroll into North Kolkata’s Banamali Sarkar Street and you will feel the essence. Artisans sit on their heels busy kneading the clay, working on idols, completely ignoring the curious passerby and photographers. They get hardly bothered about the surrounding, all they concentrate on to create the best for us. Yes, for them creating such sculptures is the only means of survival.
Visiting the potters’ hub has always been special to me. Each of the creations is worth capturing leaving the entire City of Joy and our neighboring cities spellbound. Watching the idols taking shape in the skilled hands is a pleasure. Barely there are a few days more before Maa Durga transforms from a rudimentary structure of hay and clay to a beautiful Bengali bride.
It was almost quarter to 6 in the evening when I arrived in the potters’ lane. Crammed with both complete and incomplete clay idols, I could see artisans clad in soiled lungis busy working. Some installing the heads of the tallest idols while some giving their finishing touch. Strewn on the tables set of clay fingers to befit the idols – found the potters picking them up delicately and with their masterly touch place them rightly and look the idols human. A bit spooky but the fingers looked quite real. As I was engrossed checking out the masterpieces, could hear someone shouting from behind “taking pictures of idols costs money so check your moves.” This time is believed to be the most laborious time for the craftsmen of Kumartuli – North Kolkata’s oldest region on the banks of Hooghly. The flash of the cameras and the busy crowds of people around, have been irritating the artisans, which madde them furious at this hour.
Out there on the lane right in a secluded corner there was an artisan busy applying his final strokes – I could not really miss the chance to hear from him, asked him about his daily bread, to which he replied – “ I am into this profession since I lost my parents in the age of 10. There was no choice except taking this as a profession. Ami lekha-pora kortte parini, school jete parini. (I could not go to school to get educated.) True, this line of work may not make me a gentleman, but this is my daily bread – at least I get two square meals from it and I am happy creating idols- it is a blessing for me.”- He says. All I could do was salute him and say – you are the real ‘Gentleman’ and we are proud of you – It is you who bring smile to us and make Durga Puja an auspicious and fun filled.
[ I would like to Add a few words …..
This write-up would not be so early to my site if friends of mine (Jithin, Amy and Rambling Rose) wouldn’t have been my inspiration … Dedicated to these amazing people and all others who are reading my post … ]
HAVE A GREAT TIME AHEAD AND THANK YOU FOR VISITING — Cheers JAAZ 🙂 #JOYGURU \m/