Wood-slices,pieces,chips,stone chips, umbrellas,ice picks, matches, pots,pans,shells,caps,straws,……these are but just a few examples of themes for an idol and a Pandal (just like a movie set) that you get to see at a typical Durga Puja in Kolkata.
Innovation, low cost, brilliance in design are some of the highlights of these sets.Each Pandal (set) has a different theme each year trying to outdo what they managed to do the previous year.The thinking typically begins anywhere between 3 to 5 months before the actual festival begins. The artists are conveyed the theme and the idol is (hand)made to order.
What’s more fascinating is that these make-shift sets are erected on roads, inside small streets,parks,road-intersections and every other space available in town. Narrow lanes are blocked from either ends for traffic and a Pandal is erected bang in the middle!
(Who says India is no longer tolerant?)
The Kolkata Cops do an amazing job shepherding millions of visitors in a an orderly fashion, and such a mega festival is managed extremely well by this efficient work force.Barricades are made, roads are redirected,the city is celebrating this carnival like never before every single year.
It is such a a grossly under-marketed event globally,that If showcased well, it could go on to become a global cultural icon. This has the potential to attract the global community at scale.The artistry and innovation at display is simply mind-blowing. See it to believe it. The Brazil carnival may not be a fair compare, but just to give you an idea of the splendor of colors and lights that a Durga-Puja highlights is just mesmerizing.
Essentially,at the heart of it, its just this one idol -Godess Durga , who is shown with 10 hands (for the uninitiated, that’s not a deformity, its more symbolic) and a scene where she triumphs over evil , depicted in the slain demon below her feet.The ten hands have ten different items, each symbolising dexterity ,power,and range of activity. This is but a very simplistic view,for detailed description read here.
Notice the detailing in the images below and you will realize each of them is hand-made painstakingly by obscure artists who come alive during these few days and then fade away until the next festival. People throng in thousands , marvel at these masterpieces and then forget about it,much like the culmination of the festival, which marks the end by immersing the idol in the Hoogly river.
Its time art lovers around the world are made aware of this brilliant yet nameless tribe of artisans who deserve a the attention of a larger global audience.Please share these images and spread the message to those who are still ignorant about this beautiful festival of art and culture.