Never an idle moment for sculptors at Durga Puja

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New Delhi, Oct 14: Surrounded by Durga and Ganesh idols in a thatched hut, Kartik Chitrakar, a middle-aged sculptor is working at a frenetic pace.

"We are working day and night to complete the idols in time as on Shashti all idols would be taken away to be mounted in pandals," the idolmaker, who hails from Hoogly district in West Bengal, said.

He has been running the business from Geeta Colony in east Delhi with his brother Ganesh Chitrakar for the past 20 years.

"Unlike Kolkata where Durga Pooja is a big event Delhi does not have the same demand. But being one among a few idol makers in the city, we manage to get good amount of work these days," he said.

Asked if they managed to make a living from Durga idols alone, he said the main work was during the puja season. They manage to get small orders for idols throughout the year.

"We have land in our village. But leaving our ancestral profession of sculpture for 'kheti baadi'(farming) do not make much sense. We are rooted to this profession and want to continue with it. We have been here for the past 20 years, now people know us as 'murtikar' and our clients include a number of affluent families in Chittaranjan Park, Shalimar Bagh and Greater Kailash", Kartik said.

Pointing to the array of idols from small to medium and large, he said in peak season they easily make Rs 35,000 to 45,000 after paying each hired artist Rs 3000 to Rs 4000.

"We have been continuously working for the past three months and had completed 25 sets of Goddess Durga sitting on a lion and demon Mahishasur under her feet and her four children standing beside her," he said.

About the price range for the idols, he said Rs 10,000 was the going rate for a 12-feet medium-size idol and larger sizes could cost up to Rs 40,000-50,000.

Asked about the need for hiring artists, he said, "it is not a one man's work. We need them to lessen our burden. Ten artists had been specially called from Kolkata this time. For decoration and ornamentation also, we had placed an order in Kumartali (a locality in Kolkata famous for its idol makers and decoration). In Delhi, we hardly get good accessories and embellishments." On the time taken for completion of the idol, he said it all depended on the weather. If the days were sunny enough then one set could be completed in a week. Clay figurines needed three to five coats and drying in the sun to become solid. Otherwise, it took 10 to 12 days.

Kartik said extra care had to be taken at all times as any breakage could offend the customer. In Kolkata, people carry the idol on their shoulders to their houses but in Delhi these are transported in mini trucks, so the idol has to have the necessary rigidity, proper mounting and shape.

Father of three children, two sons and a daughter, Kartik would like his children to follow in his footsteps. "I personally never forced them to do anything but it is seen that our children get inclined to the profession as they grow up watching us making sculptures," he said adding in the same breath, "I do dream of one of my children to become an officer but it is still a dream, I think it is Maa Durga's wish and blessing that she chose us for her service, it is our destiny."


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