My earliest childhood memories of Durga Puja, what fascinated me the most in a Ma Durga idol, was her number of hands and it always was a test to count them properly. Baba used to strangely always challenge me over this . Alas those were the days where the world used to look different, holding baba’s hands or climbing up baba’s lap to look eye to eye with Ma Durga .
As time passed, I didnt need Baba’s hands any longer, instead got my toy pistol , rolls of caps and friends to hang around along with occasional peeping in the enclosed area of the pandal where Durga idol was made..
The idol making is a process which has always intrigued me. The initial structure or kathamo , fixing up of the straws , putting up clay, that too primarily clay from the banks of Ganges and drying up the clay under sun or through Blow torch — each step is an art in itself .
In the congested lanes of North Kolkata there are the idol-makers of Kumortuli who give birth to hundreds of idols every year. This area, locally called Patuapara, has make-shift studios on both sides and many many idol makers make the idols which travels literally across the globe for Durga Puja celebrations .
This place in last two years has seen more increase in photographers than idol makers. This influx of photographers had definitely caused an impact on the locality and the infrastructure . The peace with which the idol makers used to work and create the marvels of art is no more , its chaotic and noisy and at times some enthusiastic photographers intrude into the artists home / studio to get a nice frame and most often cause some disruption or other and in worst cases damages to the idols also .
This year I had gone once for a quick stroll within an hour and thought of capturing various stages of preparation with mysteries of covered faces of the idols – with 1 more day to go by now she is all ready and have reached in most of the pandals already .. She is coming to bless us lets start the prayer
P.S. – No prizes for guessing what Simba learns about Ma Durga – she has got 10 hands and Mufasa ( as he fondly calls me ) has gone to bring Ma Durga home . He is eagerly waiting to see a Durga Puja holding his father’s hands…