From humans to the Goddess Durga — everybody seems to be feeling the sting of Kolkata’s mosquitoes these days. With Mahalaya just about 45 days away, Kumartuli is facing an onslaught of the deadly bite, with a few artisans down with malaria and dengue and labourers from the districts afraid to travel to work in the area for fear of contracting the disease, especially after a resident of a neighbouring area died of the illness.
Officially, two people have died and 978 dengue cases have been detected in the city, although unofficial sources say the figure is actually much more.
"We’re all very scared and work has been badly hit. Already, one of our fellow artisans and another worker are down with malaria. The death in Rajballavpara has scared away many workers," Babu Pal, former president and leader of the Kumartuli Mritshilpi Samanvaya Samity (KMSS) told HT.
"I'd been suffering from high fever for the past four days. Two days ago, tests confirmed malaria. I can’t get out of bed, let alone go to work. I have to make 16 idols this year, and I’m at a loss over how to complete the work,” said Soumen Pal over the phone — very apparently shivering with high fever.
Nearly 350 artisans of Kumartuli make about 3500 Durga idols each year.