Wednesday, June 23

Kolkata: First Durga idol this year ready to set sail

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The first idol from Kumartuli is ready to sail, and on time, too. Last year, hit by lockdown and the pandemic, idols could not be exported till June and July.

A Durga idol — in a striking black and silver scheme — will now be packed, duly fumigated and shipped to Sydney in the next few days. This time last year, bulk orders from overseas Durga committees were being cancelled as artisans stared at a disastrous 2020 due to the lockdown and Covid pandemic.
In vaccine year, orders from UK, US, Germany, Australia and Canada are trickling into Kumartuli. The city may be bracing for a second Covid wave, but the artisans have much to look forward to.

Every year, the light-weight, fibre-glass idols usually begin their overseas journeys in April. Around 200 Durga idols are shipped or flown out of the country. But with the lockdown coming into force in March 2020, several organizers from abroad called up the Kumartuli artisans to say that the festivities were being called off.

“Things are looking up,” said Kaushik Ghosh, whose family is the largest exporter of Durga idols from Kumartuli. He already has 12 overseas contracts. One of them has already been executed. Ghosh added: “This is one of my best idols. It’s 9ft tall and 18ft wide. Attired in silver, with a black background, the body is yellow.” A standard fibre-glass idol is 6ft. Packed in wooden cases, weighing around 200-250kg, it is easily transportable. “The idol weighs around 350kg and would take up a lot of space on flight. So my first Durga and her family are travelling by sea,” said Ghosh. It will take the idol around 45 days to reach Sydney.

“We sanitize these idols while making them. The courier company comes and fumigates the idols,” said A K Pal, another artisan. The idols will be wrapped carefully in bubble sheets and packed in the wooden crates that have “fragile” written on it.

Most orders were called off last year. While Ghosh managed to send eight idols abroad, Pal sold only two. “We usually get 30-35 overseas orders. Last year was a nightmare,” said Ghosh, who has taken over from his father, veteran artisan Amarnath Ghosh. “Covid-19 also hit the entire Kumartuli’s prospects. We hope things will be normal this year,” a member of Kumartuli Idolmakers’ Association said.

Source: Times of India

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