Only 28 days are left for one of the biggest festivals of Kolkata to begin. Yes, we are talking about Durga Puja. All pandal decorations start at least three to six months prior to Durga Puja.
The idol-making for Durga puja and other festivals is done in Kumartuli, the traditional potters' colony in Kolkata, West Bengal. At this place, one will be able to see numerous clay idols for various festivals and these are regularly exported.
The making of the Durga idols in Kumartuli starts at least 6 months before Durga Puja commences.
Here are some facts about Kumartuli.
1. Kumartuli, also known as Kumortuli, is one of the seven wonders of Kolkata.
2. Kumar means potter and Tuli means locality, therefore, Kumartuli translates to "potter locality".
3. The settlement of Kumartuli is over 300 years old and close to 200 potter families have been living here and their only source of livelihood is idol-making.
4. Thousands of artisans work passionately and diligently in their 'workshops' to complete the statues of Ma Durga and her four children Ganesh, Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Kartikeya.
5. The workshops in Kumartuli have a rectangular room with rows of idols stored on either side. These workshops serve as the storage space of raw materials and idols, and eating, cooking and sleeping space for the artisans.
6. Earlier, the potters of Kumartuli used clay from the riverbanks to make pots to earn a living and now, they use their creative skills to make gods and goddesses.
7. The artisans start their work after performing the holy 'Garanlkathamo puja' which falls on the day of Rath Yatra.
8. The Durga idols of Kumartuli are exported to 90 different countries.
9. There are three stages in idol making - a group of artisans creates the outer structure of the idol using bamboos and straws, another group applies the clay upon the structure and the head, feet and palms of the idols are created by the senior artisans.
10. The artisans also make the idols of Goddess Kali for Kali Puja.