The idolmakers from Kumartuli converge in Jaipur for over two months, slogging to make beautiful idols of Goddess Durga and others. They believe God has sent them on special mission because not everybody can sculpt the perfect Goddess, finds out Rajasthan Post
They have been coming to Jaipur for the past 10 years or more. For at least three to four months a year, they stay put here giving shape to Gods and Goddesses, helping to scale up the gaiety, divinity and spirituality in the lives of thousands of people.
They are the Godmakers, who converge in Jaipur’s Durgabari at least 2 months before the Durga Puja. Preparing the idols according to the clients’ specifications, these two months of the year are perhaps their busiest season throughout the year.
Hailing from Kolkata’s Kumartuli, the famed potter’s colony, Amit Pal and his team of three to four workers every year, journey towards this desert state, packed with the wet clay, hay, bamboo, paints and the accessories of the Gods and Goddesses. Kumartuli in Kolkata has a history of over 300 years, where in the potters settled in the dingy bylanes of the locality but made unusually beautiful MA Durga and other idols, which hold the devotees spellbound. Most Kumartuli artists follow the old school of idol making like the ek chali where in Ma Durga is seen with all her four kids Laxmi, Saraswati, Kartik, Ganesh. But now theme based pujas want different kinds of idols.
In Jaipur’s Durgabari, this time, Ma Durga is on a horse, even Laxmi and Saraswati are on horseback.
Starting from God of machine tools, Vishwakarma, these potters finish off with idols of Goddess Kali before they leave just before the Durga pujas to enjoy the festivities ith their families.
Amit Pal says they work from morning till about 3 am in the night everyday to sculpt the idols and give them the perfect look as the Puja nears.
The process involves wet clay moulding, shaping it with bamboo, stuffing it with hay (otherwise the idols would become vey heavy), reshaping them, painting them and accessorizing them. The time just flies by, says Dhruvo, one of the team members. The entire process of idol making is a fine example of teamwork.
Many of Rajasthan’s idols are made at Durga Bari and then transported to various pandals across the city and also to places like Udaipur, Kotputli. The non-Bengalis also order for Sherewali idols around this time.
These artisans earn a neat amount but in these times of inflation, it does not seem enough, says Pal. “We stay away from our families, engrossed in work day and night but sometimes what we earn is not enough. But we know God has sent us on a special mission. Even if we earn a little less, we do not regret. We believe not everybody can sculpt the perfect God/Goddess face like us. And therein lies our strength.”