Where The Gods Come Alive

10:59 AM

"Come Durga Puja, their creations will hold the entire city of Kolkata spellbound for five days. Yet, for the artisans on the banks of the Hooghly, it is just a means of survival."

Coomartolly, the archaic spelling for Kumartuli or Kumortuli is traditionally a potters’ quarter in northern Kolkata, the capital of the east Indian state of West Bengal. By virtue of their artistic productions these potters have moved from obscurity to prominence. 
Tucked away in congested lanes in the city’s north, idol makers at Kumartuli are working 10 hours in a day to meet the September-end deadline. On my visit to the city Here I was told if I want to visit the actual city of Calcutta I cannot ignore this one place where the gods come alive. The only prominent place where the pratimas of Goddess Durga among others are brought to life by these artisans.
The popular writer Sunil Gangopadhyay (Indian Bengali poet and novelist based in Kolkata) narrates about his childhood days (the 1940s):
“In those days, instead of buying the idols from the market at Kumortuli, families invited the kumor or artisan home to stay as a house guest weeks before the Puja, during which time he sculpted the idol. The idol at our Puja was known for its magnificent size. It used to be over 10 feet tall. Every morning as the kumor started his work, we children gathered around him and gaped in awe as he gradually turned a fistful of straw and a huge mass of clay into a perfectly formed, larger-than-life figure. And then came the most intriguing part — the painting of the third eye of the goddess. The artisan would sit in meditation sometimes for hours and then suddenly in one swift stroke of his paint brush, it would be done."
Kumortuli images are generally ordered well in advance and there a few for off-the-shelf sale. Nowadays, Kumortuli’s clientele has extended to America, Europe and Africa, among the Indian communities living there. In 1989, Durga images made out of shola pith by Amarnath Ghosh were flown to Sweden, Australia, Malaysia and Nigeria. 
Living in these narrow streets where life becomes active only during this time of the year, I walk you through the life and vibe of the place that holds a special place especially for all the Bengalis. Seeing these bunch of artisans work, relax and get to work again all through the day left me with a lot of thinking to do.
Next time you are in the city of joy, visit Kumortuli and you wont regret what you bring back.
On Devyani : Eurumme jewels, 
Koovs side slit maxi, W for Woman black tights, Alberto Torresi shoes, Raw Silk dupatta from Amritsar
 Pictures by Pragmatic Photography
Editing and post production by Devyani 

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  1. What a soulful post, Devyani! <3 MUCH LOUUUVE.

    1. Coming from my most favorite, I'm going to drink to this. Thank you so much Shreya :D


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