"Sex workers who are our members as well as others have turned against this practice, which makes them feel stigmatised. It was a spontaneous decision," said Dr Smarajit Jana, chief adviser of Durbar Mahila Samanya Committee (DBMS), the apex NGO of sex workers.
"The women had resented this practice for the past few years, but they have put their foot down firmly this time. They feel demeaned."
As per the belief, the client of a sex worker leaves behind all virtues and takes only sins inside when he enters a brothel. So the soil outside is full of virtue and fit for use in making images of Durga.
Ratna Barik, a sex worker and an executive member of Durbar with over 60,000 members in Kolkata's largest redlight district of Sonagachi said ,"this has been taking place for years. But enough is enough. We have opposed it this year."
Speaking out against the tradition, former secretary of Durbar and a sex worker, Swapna Gayen said, "This practice will not help in changing the attitude of society towards us.
So why should we allow this?"
However, puja committees intend to maintain the tradition.
"We will not compromise on customs. Ganikalaya mitti (the soil collected from redlight districts) is certainly available to clay modellors," said Shailen Shaw, treasurer of Madhyakolkata Sarbajanin Durgostab.
"And, I personally feel no 'parampara' should be tampered with. The worship of Durga is the worship of stree shakti. Why should sex workers feel left out?"