Dark clouds loom over Kumortuli

The late rain has brought relief from the sweltering heat, but to the clay idol makers of Kumortuli it has brought unwelcome worries as well. With barely a couple of months remaining for Durga Puja, the artists are unsure if they would be able to meet the delivery deadline of the idols. The deadline is in the first week of October.
With the looming premonition of rains, the artisans have started putting in extra hours.

“We are working overtime from morning 9 a.m. till 6 pm, with an hour break to meet the deadline” Nirmal Pal, an idol maker for three decades, told Sukanya Roy from The Hindu.

However, the artisans are more worried about the idols that are to be exported – they “need to be completed within the next 10 days”.

Drying the clay idols is another key problem. “A lot of time is required to dry big ones” says China Pal, who takes care of her father’s workshop.
She talks of another problem. “Big idols, like that of Ma Durga or Asura – slowly take shape outside the canopy where most of the small-sized idols are kept,” she says.
Rain is preventing the artisans from working outside the canopy for long hours. “Due to rain the workers have to stay inside the canopy, delaying the completion of big idols,” she adds.
Anticipating that the issue may affect livelihood of hundreds of families, State Minister Sashi Panja distributed some plastic sheets and tents on Saturday.
The artisans are also worried about the increased cost of making idols. The wages have been increased from Rs 500 per day to Rs 1,000, due to extra hours. “Every year wages increase a bit, but they never get doubled like this time,” says Basudeb Pal, who temporarily inducts workers during this time of the year.
More and more electricity is used due to less sunlight, adding to the cost. Mr Pal says fans and heaters are used for drying up the idols.

Source & Photo: From a report by Sukanya Roy on The Hindu

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