Kolkata: It is that part of the year when clay modellers in the Kumurtuli locality in this locality starts getting busy. Orders come in for idols of goddess Durga from all parts of West Bengal. It is from the income during this period that they survive the entire years. Some renowned artisans charge as much as Rs 5,00,000 for a single Durga idol.
Tough times for artisans
But this year due to the coronavirus outbreak, the situation is different. The artisans are looking at a bleak future without knowing when bad times will end. Orders for Durga idols are yet to flow in and they have no idea how they will survive.
To get over the bad times a prominent artisan has offered to give 20 per cent discount for booking a Durga idol online. The offer, claimed to be the first in the history of Kumartuli, was made by Prodyut Paul, a potter. He uploaded several images of Durga idols created by his studio in the past decades on his Facebook page. He then asked customers to choose from those the idol they would like to order.
“The offer is for the lockdown period only. It will end if the lockdown is lifted or bookings for a certain number of idols are made,” Prodyut informed.
Prodyut said he was forced to make this move after suffering huge losses due to the lockdown. Also several bookings from India and abroad got cancelled, he added.
“A big size Durga idol may cost anything between Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 2 lakh. However, this year most puja organisers have offered to pay less than half of that. I hope the discount will help both them and us,” Prodyut said.
The idol maker is happy that puja organisers have taken interest in the offer. “One big puja organiser from Kankinara (in North 24 Parganas district) has booked a Durga idol. They selected one from the images uploaded on Facebook. Talks are also on with four-five others,” Prodyut said.
Absence of migrant labourers
Prodyut said work in Kumartuli can start in full swing only if labourers, return. The labourers have been stuck in their native places since the lockdown. “But we need some assistance from the West Bengal government to tide over the situation,” Prodyut asserted.
Prodyut’s ‘Shilpo Bharati Studio’ was the first to set the trend of online booking for overseas puja idols years ago. At that time Kumartuli was more accustomed to expatriate Bengalis visiting studios and paying in wads of cash.
A spokesperson of ‘Kumartuli Mritshilpo Samity’ said no idol maker had made any such offer in the past. ‘Kumartuli Mritshilpo Samity’ is body comprising clay modellers of the locality.
“The situation is bad and that perhaps forced him (Prodyut) to take such a decision. But at the same time, we can also see that puja organisers have started visiting Kumartuli of late,” the spokesperson said.