The goddess of Durga travels from these mystic by lanes of Kolkata to distant lands ranging from the Caribbean Islands to Washington DC and from Johannesburg to London every year . The idol artists in Kumartuli with the legacy of innovation and excellent craftsmanship are now reaching beyond the borders with a good number of idols exported abroad.
Durga Puja is primarily the major yearly festival of West Bengal and its adjacent eastern states of India. Although celebrated throughout the country, Kolkata remains one of the most coveted destinations during this five-day event taking place in the last quarter of the year. Kumartuli, a damped locale by the Hooghly River is the abode of nearly 400 idol artists and their families. Durga Puja and its ever-increasing grandeur is the key source of substantial business for these artists. Albeit numerous challenges such as poor living standards, hygiene, education and lack of proper exposure, gradually there seems to be a light beyond the tunnel – the increasing export of idols to foreign countries.
From the beginning of the Bengali calendar that coincides with the mid of April every year, the artists of Kumartuli starts their preparation for the Durga Puja. Apart from the year round festivals celebrated in the city and the connecting towns, the idol artists of Kumartuli are gearing up for this year’s event and the progress is noteworthy.
For several decades families of some of the artists have lived here and the results are far from what you see in the pictures above. Famous names such as Mohan Banshi Rudra Pal, his sons Sanatan Rudra Pal and Pradip Rudra Pal, Rakhal Pal, Ganesh Pal, Aloke Sen, Kartik Pal, Kena Pal, are sought after artists in Kumartuli. There are women are not lagging behind as the area harbours some 30 women artisans such as Minati Pal, Soma Pal, Kanchi Pal, and Chapa Rani Pal who are well known in for their immaculate imagery of goddess Durga.
Stay tuned while we will explore the gradual progress of their art in this section and watch the goddess of Durga taking its final avatar as we near the festival dates in October.