The eruption of Covid-19 has, among other things, feature a cloud on the destiny of hundreds of clay idol artisans in Kumartuli, whose key source of income derives from the Durga idols that are displayed by every major club in the city during the five-day long Dushehra celebrations. But this time, in the middle of a pandemic and experts alarming a third wave striking soon, the livelihood of these artisans are encircled by uncertainties.
Owing to the tension of a third wave of the virus, there is likely to be a sweeping restriction on large crowds or pandal hopping. And if that managed to happen, most of the large clubs would avoid performing for grand celebrations. According to sources, already various clubs have dropped their advance bookings. So generally speaking, the business of these Kumartuli artisans are circled by vulnerabilities.
Anyhow, there is as yet an upside to the foreboding shadows. While the local market for idols might have reduced by a considerable margin, orders are coming in from foreign. Bengali emigrant groups from nations such as the USA, UK and a handful of other European nations are setting up pujas in their respective nations in the light of improving environments in those nations.
Artisan Kaushik Ghosh’s idols are hovering in South Africa, the USA, and Australia. Basudeb Pal is exporting his idols to Germany and Tokyo. The idols which are shipped overseas are generally casted from fiberglass and weigh around 200-250 kg. They are encased very carefully in bubble sheets and put in wooden boxes. Before being parcel, the sculptors take great care to sanitize the whole idol.
Normally, idols meant for export are developed and shipped off in the month of April-May, because of the demand of home requirement. But presently, there is no such urgency to be felt, so artisans are taking their time. This is certainly the only chance they would get to earn some income since the need was very less even during the Saraswati puja this year.