The Art of Idol Making: Meet the Craftsman

Aditi Mukherjee

Every Bengali waits for the time of the year when ‘maa’ Durga is revered with festivities during Durga Puja, five days of complete euphoria. A Hindu warrior goddess, Durga represents triumph over evil. The tradition to celebrate her is so deep-rooted that there are families who have been in the business of making idols for generations.

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Known for their craft in towns and bigger cities all over the country, such artisans are highly coveted. They toil for months, burning the midnight oil, to ideate and create jaw-dropping effigies.

It takes a long time to design, produce and mould the idols into their majestic final form. Although mud and manure are the most common items used to hand-make idols, these days, artists are becoming increasingly aware of other environmentally friendly materials and are finding alternative ways to implement these. Two districts in West Bengal – Medinipur and Nadia – are most famous for their artisans, and often get commissioned for the following year almost as soon as the current year’s festivity ends.

Kolkata is known for building some of the most magnificent pavilions for Durga Puja. Every structure is a result of six to seven months of planning, which is when contracts with artists and a whole gamut of professionals are offered and signed.

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