Kumartuli - Making of the Mother Goddess
For generations, the inhabitants of Kumartuli in northern Kolkata have been engaged in the time-honoured art of creating clay idols of Goddess Durga. The finished idols are worshipped during the festival eminently known as “Durga Puja” or “Kali Puja”, where all of Bengal comes together in a pageant of celebration. The artists of Kumartuli, also known as Kumortuli, also export their well-applauded idols of Goddess Durga, fashioned from lightweight materials such as fibreglass.
Certain customs are observed while fashioning the clay idol of Durga. On the auspicious day of the Rath Yatra festival, clay is collected from the banks of the Ganges River. A lump of clay is collected from the soil of localities where sex-workers live, as this clay is considered to be sanctified. It is then added to the clay mixture for making the idol. The entire process of idol-making, from the collection of clay to the final stages of decoration and ornamentation, is considered sacred.
Another important event is Chakkhu Daan, literally the donation of the eyes, which occurs on a special day when the artists paint the eyes on the face of the idol.
Through these photographs, ATANU CHAKRABORTY and travel photographer MITHUN BASAK explore the enchanting art of the making of the mother goddess. Visit Mithun Basak’s official website to view more of his work.
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