It’s been more than 17 years since Manik Paul, 42, an artisan from Kolkata, has celebrated Durga Puja with his family. Paul, who is an idol maker, comes to Delhi every year just after the Rath Yatra and stays in Delhi till Diwali. In these four months, he makes clay idols for various celebrations including Durga Puja, Ganesh Chaturthi and Kali Puja.
The premises of the dilapidated Chandralok cinema in Chittaranjan Park function as his workshop and home for these four months. A visit to his workshop, packed with beautiful idols of Durga and Ganesha in various stages of creation, for a moment make you feel like you’ve intruded a party and a gathering of the Gods.
“It’s my family business and I learned the art from my father when I was a little boy. I miss my family during this time but I come to Delhi to earn. In Kolkata, there are hundreds of idol makers and the earnings aren’t great. Every year, I get around 15 more artisans with me from Kolkata to help me,” says Paul. He belongs to Kumartuli in Krishnanagar near Kolkata, which boasts of the best clay idol makers in the country.
Proud of his lineage, Paul explains that a traditional idol from Kumartuli is made of hay supported by wooden sticks. “Most of the things for making the idol are brought from Kolkata, and include the jewellery and clothes used to adorn the Gods.”