Kumortuli

Clay idols of Debi Durga in rows, photo enthusiasts peeking for aesthetic shots, the sculptors patiently tracing the colours on the goddess - Kumortuli appeals to anyone who appreciates art.

Located in North Kolkata, Kumortuli literally means "potter's locality". Inside the lanes and by-lanes of the area, you will find handcrafted idols of Goddess Durga, represented in various forms.

The idols are created in small rectangular workspaces here, where the talented artisans usually initiate the work in mid-April after worshipping the wooden frames for the idols first.

Each idol take a painstakingly long time to be shaped, as they go through various stages of creation - with the initial wooden frame wrapped by straw and multiple layers of clay application on the figure, followed by coats of body colouring, and then clothing and accessorizing of the idols.

Maa Durga clay Idol in kumortuli
Debi Durga clay idol

Durga idols in Kolkata are crafted to meet the specifications of respective themed Pandals these days and the effort that goes into creating them is bound to impress you. Most heritage Durga Pujas in the city, that have survived the test of time, however try to hold on to a particular style or form of the Debi's idol for years, and their craftsmen from Kumortuli usually remain the same.

With almost all idol-makers and clay-modellers in the place carrying on their artistic legacy over generations, the Kumortuli settlement is nearly as old as the city itself. The ‘kumor' (potter) families settled here, comprise of artists who came down from Nadia (a district in the state of West Bengal popular for clay art) and from pre-partition East Bengal (now Bangladesh). The potter's settlement was set up here in the mid-18th century, as it is near the banks of Hooghly River, which was the primary source for the idol-making components - straw and sticky clay.

Though most of the fare from Kumortuli make their way to the Sarbajanin (community) Pujos in the city, a lot of the creations these days are also exported to the Durga Pujo(s) arranged by Indian communities living abroad in the US, Johannesburg, London, and more.

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