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Durgapuja / The men who create God

The men who create God? You read it right.It’s about those skilled hands who create idols of God. In this write-up, the focus is on the Bengali artists  who make idols and effigies for  Durgapuja in Jaipur.

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Idols of Durga Mata at workshop run by Bengali artists in Jaipur

Even though the Bengali festival of Durgapuja is not native to Jaipur, its celebrated with much fanfare in the city among the Bengali community. As per the available information, Durgapuja was first celebrated in Jaipur in the first decade of the 19th century, probably in 1804 AD at Shila Mata Temple in Amer. Jaipur has a large population of Bengali workers, especially the ones working in the jewelry industry. It’s no secret that Bengali hand is considered as the most skilled one and they dominate the skilled workforce employed in the jewelry industry across India.

The relationship of Jaipur with Bengal  dates back to few centuries when the king of Amer Mirza Man Singh I became governor of Bengal under the Mughal empire in 1594 AD. He brought along with him deity installed in the Shila Mata temple, Amer Shila Devi from Jessore in 1604 AD. The Bengali priests were also called in and since then started a new relationship of Bengalis with Amer and Jaipur. Bengali priests have managed old heritage temples in Jaipur for generations. The best example is Govind Devji Temple – most popular temple in Jaipur. Over the years as Jaipur  transformed from the city which manufactured colored gemstones to the  finished jewelry pieces, many Bengali skilled workmen also followed and made it a home. For Bengali community,  Durgapuja is the most important festival.

I captured these pictures at Shri kali Mata Shilpalaya, tucked inside the by-lanes of Johari Bazaar, Jaipur 2 week ago. Run & managed by a Bengali family consisting of 2 brothers Gautam Pal and Sanant Pal along with their father Ganpati Pal,  the creations inside their workshop is a result of a time taking manual work which takes days to create each piece of art. . The workshop I visited is designed & made in the same way  as the ones in Kolkatta or elsewhere in Bengal. It was quite dark inside and the only available light source  was the  incandescent bulb!

This post is not  a guide on  how these men create idols of God & Goddesses rather it’s just a peek into their world.

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These idols are about to be finished due to approaching Durgapuja 

Ganesha idols made out of hay & clay  in the below picture is at an initial stage; the one in the center is finished & ready for sale.

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It’s quite a contrast!
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Idols of Ganesha at initial stage of work

These  idols in the following pictures are work in progress.

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Work still in Progress

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This  idol of Goddess Durga has a beautiful face & a typical Bengali look on her face.

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Let me introduce you to the creators of these works of art….

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Gautam Pal  taking a break from his work  for conversation

Sanant Pal during a tea break

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Ganpati Pal….

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Gautam Pal at work.

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During the conversation, it came up that there are 3-4 more such  workshops run by the Bengali artists in the city. These artists work for months. Unlike other cities where Bengali artists travel from Bengal to create idols, usually a month before Durgapuja, this workshop is permanent. Ganesha is a popular idol which  sells across the year. On inquiring about the number of days it takes to complete one idol, Gautam Pal replied that it’s very difficult to quantify since they work simultaneously on many idols but generally it takes around 10 days.

Visiting this workshop was an interesting experience. You can appreciate a work of art once you understand it’s nuances. If you ever get a chance to explore something similar, opt for it!!

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Workshop at a glance
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42 thoughts on “Durgapuja / The men who create God

  1. A fascinating post on the making of gods and goddesses! As a Westerner one is puzzled by the multitude of deities. I wonder if the practice of creating them is merely an attempt to preserve the cultural heritage of your country.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s difficult to answer precisely. It’s being said that religion itself was created to bring in order and create rules for some order. It’s true for all religions.
      Hindu religion is unique in certain manner, presence of multiple God is its feature. This also explains why Hindus are tolerant -Co-existence of many God and goddesses unlike one Centre of power in other religion. What you mentioned might also be true.

      Like

  2. Some people don’t understand the religious back ground of these Gods and Goddesses, I wish more people were better enlightened. These statues/god & goddesses go back 100’s or even 1000’s of years, the history is amazing as is the art of making these beautiful statues….Thank You Arv for showing us a better glimpse of India’s beauty! 🙂 T.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In India mythology and religion has strong roots. You can virtually find tons of info on each of those God and goddesses! So there ‘s so much to explore and find.
      Happy that you liked it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Lidiia these men are not locals, rather they are from a state which is far away from here. It’s inspiring to come across these workshops. yes it’s about culture, art and religion! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow arv, great. I didn’t have any idea jaipur has so nice idols and bengali artists have settled there so long. If you have a chance, do visit kumartuli in kolkata, the hub of so many workshops for making idol like the one you depicted. But yours is really special, as it is outside Bengal

    Liked by 1 person

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