In a first, Kumartuli artisan ships Durga idol to Australia amid COVID-19 outbreak

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Published: June 11, 2020 11:11 AM

Earlier, in April, five overseas customers of another famous Kumartuli artisan, Prodyut Pal, had cancelled their bookings citing the COVID-19 situation, disheartening him and other idol makers.

Lightweight fibreglass idols are in demand among NRI Bengalis during Durga Puja.

An idol maker from Kumartuli, a potters’ hub in north Kolkata, has shipped a fibreglass idol of Goddess Durga to Australia, becoming the first artisan from the area to send his artwork overseas amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Soon after shipping the fibreglass idol to Melbourne on Wednesday, Koushik Ghosh has become busy in making
arrangements for sending another to Germany.

The fibreglass idol was sanitised before being shipped to Australia, he said. Ghosh’s shipment has given some hope to the artisans of Kumartuli who are getting lesser orders and facing cancellation of bookings this year due to the pandemic. Lightweight fibreglass idols are in demand among NRI Bengalis during Durga Puja.

Ghosh said he has received only nine orders from abroad this year, a sharp dip from 30-32 in the previous years.
It would have been 12 but three organisers cancelled their bookings, said Ghosh, who has been making idols for
Durga Puja organisers abroad for the last 15 years. Apart from Australia and Germany, the idols made by him will be shipped to Canada, the US and the UK this year.

“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. Earlier, in April, five overseas customers of another famous Kumartuli artisan, Prodyut Pal, had cancelled their bookings citing the COVID-19 situation, disheartening him and other idol makers.

“Most of the customers were from the US. Two of them have promised me that they will organise Durga Puja next year and buy idols from my studio,” Prodyut Pal said. Kanchi Paul, one of the few female artisans in the potters’ hub, said, “The jinx has been broken. I have got confirmation from five Durga Puja committees in Kolkata. We will start work in full swing once the artisans return to Kumartuli from their villages.”

“Other artisans are also getting orders for idols, albeit smaller in size, from local puja committees but the numbers so far are lesser than last year’s. We badly want things to look up,” she said.

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