Durga Puja Preparation, Making Idols of Goddess Durga

Every year a group of idol makers from Kamartuli, Kolkata come down to Bangalore to make idols of Goddess Durga. This year too they have arrived; Pal da, Das babu, Roshik da… I heard them calling out to each other. Some of them recognize me because every year I visit this place where they meticulously mould the soft clay in to firm idol of Goddess Durga.

Clay for Making Idols Of Goddess Durga

This year they brought 7 truckloads of clay with them from Kolkata for making idols of Goddess Durga. There are more than 20 groups in Bangalore which require these idols of Goddess Durga. For more than a month these idol makers work on the clay creating stunning idols. The clay is of special kind not available in Bangalore. It is no ordinary clay, as it is a mix of 4 different things. Part of it is clay from Ganges which constitutes the major chunk. To it cow dung and cow urine, which is considered holy by Hindus, is mixed.

Clay Idols for Durga Puja
Frame for Idol of Ma Durga
The 4th ingredient is soil from aangan (courtyard) of sex workers. One can’t just go and pick up the soil from the prostitute’s courtyard. A purohit alone can procure it. That too he has to beg for that soil and keep begging till she relents. Why this soil is considered purest? To this question I will quote the sentence repeated in almost every site: It is said that whenever a man visits a prostitute, he leaves behind his purity and virtue on her doorstep. So, all the pureness gets accumulated outside her house. Hence, this ‘punya maati’ (holy soil) becomes a must add element in the Durga Maa murti (idol).

Making Idol of Goddess DurgaIdol of Goddess Durga

pious procedure…

All these are mixed well, then a main purohit (Hindu priest) chants mantras, offers prayers and after this pious procedure the clay is considered holy. This clay is distributed among idol makers of Goddess Durga which they mix with huge amounts of clay making the whole lot pious and worthy of making idols. That explains why they bring truck load of clay all the way from Kolkata. Though the reason they told me was it is of special kind not available in Bangalore. (I did a bit of googling to find this out.)

Eco Friendly Idols of Goddess Durga

I saw the eco friendly way these idol makers made the idols of Goddess Durga. The basic frame work made of bamboo sticks on which hay is wrapped. So the skeletal frame of the idols is just the sticks and hay. On this they keep adding the clay giving the fine shape and figure. It takes at least 2 weeks to get a completely dry form of this base structure. On this they apply a layer of liquid fine clay to smoothen the surface, and then spray paint it. I must mention here that all the paint s they use are of eco friendly nature, no metallic paints used. Time just flies as I watch them making idols of Goddess Durga.

Durga Puja 2016I watched an artist there painting the eyes of Goddess Durga. Line after line, color after color he kept adding giving a definite beautiful shape to the eyes. I clicked several pictures of the artist at work. In the end I got tired of my simple job of clicking but the artist went on and on. The idols aren’t complete yet, 75% of the work is done. In the coming days they will add several accessories, clothing and jewelry and then they will be transported to the different Durga Puja pandals of the city.

Idols of Ma Durga

Painting Eyes of Ma Durga

Like every year my Durga Puja preparations are on. I am looking forward to this annual celebrations, enjoyment, eating and entertainment! Happy Pujo to you all my dear friends who celebrate Durga Pujo!

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29 Responses

  1. Nice info Indrani.I didn’t know idol makers travel all the way to there.I had presumed that the idols were transported to various cities.

  2. It’s a wish of mine to attend Durga Puja woh bhi in Kolkata.. Hope will get this opportunity soon 🙂

  3. Beautiful post Indrani! Next year I would love to try and find where they make traditional idols like this in Mumbai and go visit the place with my daughter (I am sure she’ll love watching them make an idol!). Didn’t know many things about the idol making process like the mud that they use from the prostitute’s house – how interesting! Going to share this post as I really enjoyed reading this! 🙂

    And the fact that these idols are eco friendly is the best thing ever!

  4. I’ve never witnessed the festival in person Indrani, have always been intrigued by it..really enjoyed going through this post.

  5. Such a wonderful post! And great pictures. Happy Durga Pujo 🙂

  6. Interesting read.Ingredients that go into the clay that is used to make the goddess are really significant, unheard of

  7. Great to read your post. Beautiful pics.
    Greetings

  8. Really beautiful pictures and hard work behind that.

  9. I always wish to attend the Durga Pujo celebration especially in Kolkatta. You have posted amazing pictures. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  10. Very informative post Indrani Ji. Thanks and hearty Durga Pooja wishes to you and your family.

  11. The fervour is on Indrani with this magnificent preparatory post of yours..well before Mahalaya Amavasya when the festivities officially begin.

  12. Sims says:

    Beautiful research Indrani. Did not know this much of the durga pooja idols.

  13. Great read on Durga Puja preparations, Indrani. The celebrations are grand here too in NCR

  14. Laveena Sengar says:

    I have lived in Kolkata for a while but I was too young to remember anything. My parents tell me wonderful stories about the place. I like the festivities there. Really want to be a part of the festival once.

  15. Mimi says:

    Wow this is very nice, I would love to experience this and see the process of making of these. So colorful!
    Thuymi

  16. I always wanted to write about this topic . The whole process of Idol making fascinates me. Specially the punya maati and the prostitute connection. Loved reading about it. Thanks for sharing it.

  17. Isha says:

    Hi Indrani, Can you please share the location of these idol makers in Bangalore? I want an idol for navratri and searching the whole Bangalore for one without any luck. It would be a big help if you can please share the location or even just the area.

  18. Nisha says:

    Beautiful post Indrani! Loved reading about punya maati and the prostitute connection. I had heard about it but didn’t know the details.

    Similarly, there’s a place in Maharashtra where they make Ganesh idols and some of our friends go to that place to buy instead of buying it locally in Mumbai. I am sure the place would also have an interesting story.
    Very informative post.

  19. verushka says:

    I love reading your blog.Every post is so informative and makes me wish I was in India with you. We do nothing like this in South Africa.

  20. वाह दुर्गा पूजा से जुडी बहुत सी यादें हमारे जिन्दगी के एल्बम में भी जुडी हैं | आपने दुर्गा माँ की मूर्ति का रहस्य भी बहुत ही सुन्दर तरीके से प्रस्तुत किया | आपका ब्लॉग भी खासा प्रभावित करने वाला है | मैं आज पहली बार पढ़ पाया हूँ | शुक्रिया , अब आता रहूँगा |

  21. Asha says:

    Such an interesting post Indrani ! Didn’t know this.. so interesting

  22. Suanlee says:

    What a grand and interesting preparation. Reading about the prostitute’s soil was very informative, the fact that it is the purest on their doorstep makes sense following your explanation. The artists are very skilled and have access to such a broad range of colours!

  23. Blair Villanueva says:

    This is interesting celebration.. question, why is it the idol have many hands? Does it symbolizes abundance?

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      She is Goddess, supernatural, so she is depicted with 10 hands all wielding different weapons.

  24. Shane says:

    Such a unique cultural experience. I love all the hands branching off. I wonder what that signifies.

  25. I love this post, even if I cannot visit a country, I still love learning about other cultures and how different things are made. I learned a lot of new things. I like that some are eco friendly too.

  26. As soon as I read the title of this post I was reminded of idols that are put in the large lake at the center of Hyderabad, India. They are not eco-friendly and have to be retrieved later. But of course parts break off and get left behind in the lake. Years of this has seriously contributed to that lake’s terrible solution. I was super stoked to read that there are Eco Friendly Idols of Goddess Durga! Go talk to the folks in Hyderabad and inspire them to think about these methods as well!

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