Saturday, February 13, 2016

Saraswati idols at Kumartuli, Calcutta

Basant Panchami was celebrated yesterday in Calcutta, heralding the arrival of spring.  Homes, shops, schools and colleges, all celebrate Basant Panchami by worshipping Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning and of the Arts.

For several weeks before the festival, the potters at Kumartuli work hard to create beautiful idols of the goddess. I love the unfinished look of the statues, when they have no paint. Pure magic with clay and straw and water.
Saraswati is always depicted with a veena, a plucked stringed instrument that is mentioned in the natyashastra. In the photo below you can see how the hands are a different colour. That's because the hands are made separately, and attached after the base structure dries.
After the basic structure is completed, details are added. Crown, wavy hair, jewellery, these add beauty to the figures.
Here are some of the idols, being painted: in this one, the saree is the only part that is painted; only a first coat has been done. It will be further finished with more details and shading.
 Here's another one, see the curl of hair near the ears, on the cheek :) :) It is a traditional way of depicting beauty.
This one is also very beautiful, and waiting for more work to be done.
The entire area is busy at work. Some of the statues are very big, like the ones in this photo which the two men are working on.
There are decorations and embellishments also being sold.
I wanted to spend more time, but I had lots of other things to do. I hope you enjoyed this small glimpse!