As the Bengali community prepares for its biggest festival of Durga puja,the scene at Kolkata's famous potter's quarter Kumartuli wears a different look this year. Generally by July, most of the artisans have already received their bookings and are already burning midnight oil to complete their orders.
However, the novel coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown coupled with the severe cyclonic storm Amphan has left a cascading impact on Kumartuli, the artisans' hub in the northern part of the city.
Yet, the artisans are desperately hoping for a turnaround as states are slowly limping back to normalcy with the gradual unlocking. An idol maker from Kumartuli has shipped an idol of Goddess Durga to Australia, becoming the first artisan from the area to send his artwork overseas amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Artisan Koushik Ghosh has been making idols for Durga Puja organisers abroad for the last 15 years. His lightweight fibreglass idols are in demand among the NRI Bengalis. He said that the idol was sanitised before being shipped to Australia. Now he is busy in making arrangements for sending another one to Germany.
Ghosh said that every year he would receive order of 30-35 idols but this year he has received only 9 orders. It would have been 12 but three organisers cancelled their bookings. “The fact that an idol has been shipped abroad like previous years brings hope that the jinx brought about by COVID-19 has been broken,” Ghosh said.
Apart from Australia and Germany, the idols made by him will be shipped to Canada, US and UK this year. His Dubai and Singapore order are on hold. Once the organisers get the nod from the local authorities, Ghosh will know about the confirmation.
Many other artisans have also started receiving confirmation orders for puja idols in the state.