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Something for Bill — Kumartali

November 29, 2009

Bill had been looking for Kumartali in north Kolkata since we arrived.  We finally found a cab driver who knew just where it was. Kumartuli is in the north-central part of the city and is the Mecca of clay idol makers in Kolkata.  The artists have been living in this densely populated part of the city for generations. The idols of Kumartuli get shipped to outside Kolkata and to foreign countries too. The word “Kumartuli” means potter’s place (the word “Kumor” means potter).  Kumars are the sculptors who churn out statues of the gods. The entire process of creation of the idols from the collection of clay to the ornamentation is a holy process, supervised by rites and other rituals.


Most of the idols of Durga in the city are made here. Begali craftsmen prepare these clay idols of Durga for Durga Puja celebrated in September or October.


These artisans start with a wire and straw base and then add clay.


The delicate and long process of making Durga idols starts couple of months before Puja season begins.  Here’s Durga and Shiva.

The first time that Bill and I tried to find Kumartali, we found the remains of last year’s celebration.  At the end Durga Puja, the idol is taken for immersion in a procession amid loud chants of ‘Bolo Durga mai-ki jai’ (glory be to Mother Durga’) and ‘aashchhe bochhor abar hobe’ (‘it will happen again next year’) and drumbeats to the river or other water body. It is cast in the waters symbolic of the departure of the deity to her home with her husband in the Himalayas.

Early the next morning we caught a cab to the airport and flew to New York City where we got our car and drove home.  I may have left India, but India will never leave me.


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3 Comments leave one →
  1. ABHIJIT CHATTERJEE permalink
    December 13, 2009 7:24 am

    I enjoyed the fragrance of an Indian (bengalee) culture in the eyes of an american. We are accustomed with the pics but never looked into the depth what i did today. you may search in youtube ma durga bisorjan or bach ceremony what i have posted and i think you will enjoy. I attached the same in orkut also in my profile. may please be visited. regards

  2. Pinaki Dutta permalink
    December 17, 2009 11:58 am

    It’s a pleasant experiance to visit through our glorious culture. Glad to see that a non-indian has the humanity to feel our culture to this extent.Please come time and again to the glorious country called “INDIA”.Regards …

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