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These Two Durga Idol Sculptors Mould Their Destiny To Fame In a Man’s World

  • IWB Post
  •  September 30, 2019


Last year when I was in Kolkata during Durga Puja for the first time, I actually witnessed the amount of hard work and expertise required to prepare Durga idols. After having spoken to a few sculptors, I noticed that I didn’t find any female sculptor. Strange?

Well, every October several people flock to Kumortuli region in North Kolkata to watch sculptors giving final touches to their idols. Kumortuli has hundreds of artists but not many women sculptors. Despite Durga being a woman, the sculptors’ industry is a man’s world. Now, thanks to the team at Indian Express Online who helped these two women to gain recognition, the scene looks better.

Despite the fact that China Pal’s father Hemanta Pal is a renowned sculptor, he still did not approve of her interest in the same field. She shared, “Baba (father) did not like it when I used to go there, he used to say there is no place for a girl in this trade. Maa Durga is a woman as well, why should it be a problem if one woman is instrumental in creating another?” But with her confidence and determination over the span of two years, she’s created her own team, and now runs two studios in Kolkata.

Durga Idol

Mala, another sculptor in that region has been creating idols for the past 20 years and her idols have found fans across the world. Mala knew what she wanted so she convinced her father and brother to teach her the art of idol making and made her first idol when she was a teenager. Talking about her journey, she said, “No woman or girl used to do this work back then. Even my father had initially objected but finally gave up to my cajoling and taught me.”

Durga Idol

Mala wants her daughter to follow her footsteps and keep the tradition of idol-making alive. Over the years she has gained such popularity that her idols are exported to countries like Dubai, Germany, and the United States of America.

In 2015, China Pal gained international fame by designing Kolkata’s first ardhnarishwar, the idol of Shiva and Durga. The unique idol was designed for a pandal run by the transgender community of the city. This garnered wide-spread appreciation.

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