The Amphan Super Cyclone had devastated the city of Kolkata. For days, the entire city, already suffering under a growing number of COVID-19 cases, was cut off from the rest of the world. I have written about it here. A lot of damage was documented and city dwellers were left in a state of shock.
The Durga Puja is celebrated in its biggest form in the city of Kolkata and the state of West Bengal. It is celebrated across the world wherever Bengali people are living. Over the years it has been less of a religious festival and more of a people’s festival. People from all over the world, across religions and cultures, have participated and rejoiced at the magnificence of the festival.
The Kumartuli area is situated in North Kolkata near Shobha Bazaar. The place is known for its Durga idols. Several artisans make Durga idols, jewellery and other materials for decorations. Some idols are even sent abroad to the U.S.A., U.K. and other European countries. Idols for numerous other festivals are also made here. Over recent years the place has also developed as a tourist attraction, especially around autumn.
After cyclone Amphan subsided, clay idols were found under the open sky as the roofs of many workshops were blown away by the strong gusts of winds. When artisans returned after the cyclone, they saw a scene which was never seen before. The clay had completely dissolved, except for the bamboo structure. Tin roofs were blown away as sunlight crept into the workshops. The workshops were filled with water, destroying and damaging the interior structure.
Babu Pal, the spokesperson of the Kumartuli Mritshilpi Sanskriti Samiti, said that about 500 artisans with 3,800 labourers worked in the area in about 300 workshops. Due to COVID-19 and the uncertainty looming over the festival season, demands have already plummeted. The low demand and the cyclone together have done a lot of damage to the place, and if demands don’t go up, it will take a lot of time to restore their earnings and livelihood.