Barely fifteen minutes away from the deserted office area of Dalhousie, artisans at Kumartuli are a busy lot, running around and working hard towards the completion of idols. The countdown at Kumartuli has begun, and with just forty-five days to go for the Durga Puja, idol makers don’t have a minute to spare, forget sparing a whole day for the bandh.
“It is just a month to go before we have to complete painting 22 idols. And we are not even halfway. We cannot afford to waste a day,” says Gopal Chandra Pal, an artisan for Nrishinga Pal and Sons. Across the lane, artisans at Amarnath Ghosh and Sons are working dexterously, creating fibre glass idols and jewellery for the idols. “We need to put the finishing touches on four more idols that have to be shipped within the next 10 days. Our artisans are working overtime to meet the deadline,” says Kaushik Ghosh.
Most artisans at Kumurtuli live close-by and out of about 1500 artisans, only about 50 could not make it to work due to the bandh on Wednesday. Most of the idols are in the second stage of completion when they are being dabbed with a second layer of clay. This year, the artisans are already lagging behind time due to the continuous rains. “The hay structure is covered with two layers of clay coating. Both coatings need to dry before the first layer of paint can be applied. The rains make it difficult to put the idols to dry in the sun,” explains Prosenjit Pal.