Living with God by Abhijit Chakraborty


A junior artist is busy with his work in the filthy lanes of “Kumartuli”, the potter's hub in Kolkata. Artisans squat on the street, kneading the clay or working on idols here.

India is synonymous with rich tradition and heritage of religious practices of all religions since time immemorial. Hinduism is one such practice that has grabbed the attention of the rest of the Universe because of various reasons. Practicing religion is an integral part of Living Life here.

This pictorial representation captures the life and various moments of Kumartuli, the very place of Idol makers of Kolkata. The life of an artist and his family is never a cake walk. There are issues, related to infrastructure, costs, and logistics necessary for the process of creation of Idol. The photo artist feels that Living with God is a metaphor. It explores how the mundane livelihood transcends its mortal existence to divinity due to its sheer association with the passion of creation of idol. The artist also feels that Living with the God is a reality. As in its very literal sense they share the space of their day to day life with Idols at various stage of development of structural schema. Living with the God thus is Living Life. [Official Website]

The muddy, narrow by-lane of Banamali Sarkar Street, the nerve centre of Kumartuli, is flanked by congested workshops.
The muddy, narrow by-lane of Banamali Sarkar Street, the nerve centre of Kumartuli, is flanked by congested workshops.
Space crunch is a common problem faced by idol makers. They struggle to accommodate idols in their workshops every year.
Space crunch is a common problem faced by idol makers. They struggle to accommodate idols in their workshops every year.
A little observer’s day out in the lanes of Kumartuli.
A little observer’s day out in the lanes of Kumartuli.
It is quite normal to observe this type of close relationship, even during crucial stages like putting in the delicate finishing touches. The girl and the dog are sharing intimate moments during the process of creation of idols.
It is quite normal to observe this type of close relationship, even during crucial stages like putting in the delicate finishing touches. The girl and the dog are sharing intimate moments during the process of creation of idols.
The observers, silently watching the day to day business.
The observers, silently watching the day to day business.
According to Kumartuli Idol Makers' Association, thousands of registered artisans are working at Kumartuli, but only about thirty percent of them work throughout the year. There are at least two thousand workers, who are involved during the “season” but are not registered in the Association's list.
According to Kumartuli Idol Makers’ Association, thousands of registered artisans are working at Kumartuli, but only about thirty percent of them work throughout the year. There are at least two thousand workers, who are involved during the “season” but are not registered in the Association’s list.
Goddess 'Kali' stands on lone guard in a dark alley of Kumartuli, while behind her the room of an artisan depicts his deplorable economic condition.
Goddess ‘Kali’ stands on lone guard in a dark alley of Kumartuli, while behind her the room of an artisan depicts his deplorable economic condition.
The idol, covered by a used saree, is ready to reach the place of worship.
The idol, covered by a used saree, is ready to reach the place of worship.
The boys from the artisans’ houses are busy with their kite in the lane. Kumartuli is witness to the freedom of childhood as well.
The boys from the artisans’ houses are busy with their kite in the lane. Kumartuli is witness to the freedom of childhood as well.
A short break from the rigor…a light chat, however all that is not without a purpose. It is for allowing the ladies to collect their share of Life (water) for household work. The artists have to juggle high artistry and creativity regularly with mundane activities like collecting water and other domestic errands and chores for sheer lack of space
A short break from the rigor…a light chat, however all that is not without a purpose. It is for allowing the ladies to collect their share of Life (water) for household work. The artists have to juggle high artistry and creativity regularly with mundane activities like collecting water and other domestic errands and chores for sheer lack of space.
There are no classrooms, lecture halls, workshops or methodical training sessions for aspiring artisans to learn and mature as artists. Kumartuli, is struggling hard to sustain and maintain its heritage the traditional way. The old system of tutelage is no doubt outdated but nevertheless dependable. An artist’s workshop has come out to the street literally in the busy rush hour.
There are no classrooms, lecture halls, workshops or methodical training sessions for aspiring artisans to learn and mature as artists. Kumartuli, is struggling hard to sustain and maintain its heritage the traditional way. The old system of tutelage is no doubt outdated but nevertheless dependable. An artist’s workshop has come out to the street literally in the busy rush hour.
The porters are passing their time by playing cards in the afternoon break.
The porters are passing their time by playing cards in the afternoon break.
During the Puja season, the 'extra hands' come from different parts of Bengal because making the idols of Goddess Durga is a grand affair. Some of those assistants are enjoying 'Khaini', a popular and low priced tobacco medium.
During the Puja season, the ‘extra hands’ come from different parts of Bengal because making the idols of Goddess Durga is a grand affair. Some of those assistants are enjoying ‘Khaini’, a popular and low priced tobacco medium.
Autumn brings shining glory in the darkness of Kumartuli when idols are worshiped by their followers across the Globe during Durga Puja, the biggest festivity of Bengal. The artistry of Kumartuli spreads its wings to different parts of Europe and America. Many artisans from Kumartuli are also doing their job successfully in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tripura and many other states of India.
Autumn brings shining glory in the darkness of Kumartuli when idols are worshiped by their followers across the Globe during Durga Puja, the biggest festivity of Bengal. The artistry of Kumartuli spreads its wings to different parts of Europe and America. Many artisans from Kumartuli are also doing their job successfully in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tripura and many other states of India.
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