Photo-Essay | The Goddess and Mortals of Durga Puja

artisan-old-2

Their hands moved delicately like machines. Their faces full of intense determination and concentration.

Every year, around this time, artisans from Bengal reach Chittaranjan Park in New Delhi to begin work on one of the most important and “significant socio-cultural event” and religious festivals in the “Bengali Hindu society” and also for the rest of the country.

“Durga Puja festival marks the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura. Thus, Durga Puja festival epitomizes the victory of Good over Evil. In Bengal, Durga is worshipped as Durgotinashini, the destroyer of evil and the protector of her devotees.”Wikipedia (Durga Puja)

Chittaranjan Park – or C R Park as it is popularly known – has a predominantly Bengali community which is why it becomes the epicenter of all Durga Puja celebrations in the Delhi and NCR region. Pandals – huge open tents – are set up where people gather to celebrate during these festivities.

There is a sense of enormous conviviality and euphoria as people from all walks of life dress up in their best clothes and venture out hopping from one pandal to another, mingling with friends and family, exchanging gifts, offering their prayers to the Goddess, and enjoying specialty festival delicacies. Music and lights form an integral part of the celebrations as the pandals and the idols are decorated in the most elaborate and fancy clothes, jewelry, and paraphernalia.

ganesha-close-up

But, before all the jubilation commences, a lot of hard work is required. The work within the pandals begins weeks in advance. However, it is the production of the all important idols – which require slow and intricate work and constant supervision along with the highest level of craftsmanship – that starts months before the actual event.

It is a humbling experience looking at the idols at various stages of completion because no matter the state they are in, there is a sense of calmness to them, one that is often attributed to a higher being.

What intrigued and interested me the most during a photo-walk organized by Let’s Click Gurgaon – during which I visited C R Park – was watching the artisans work. Even though a handful of us descended into their work-space, clicking away photos, they continued to work without a hint of interruption. Their hands steady as ever. Their faces spoke of the importance and responsibility the work holds for them and their work in return proof that they are the best in what they do.

Once these numerous idols are finished – and they would have been by the time you read this post – they will be transported to various Pandals in the region, but for now they all stand together as one while the artisans begin the very last phase of their completion.

face

Below are just a few of the photographs from the walk…

The Artisans…

artisan-old

face-painting

ganesha-artisan

master-craftsman

The Tools of their Trade…

colours

green-colours

hands

sewing-machine

working-on-ganesha

yellow-colour

threads

And Their Workshop…

idols-in-colours

idols-colour

idols-black-white

workshop

worksop-2

The Location (The workshops were in a small open space next to a residential complex and the grounds of an old cinema theater, whereas the only pandal we visited was still being set-up) …

pandal-1

pandal-2

A Few Locals…

local

visitors

The Idols…

anger

devi-3

evil

lion

devi-colour

ganesha-face

ganesh-bw

devi-maa

eyes

The transformation of the idols from the very basic state they were in at the time of taking these photographs to the final bright, beautiful, colorful, and bold idols that adorn the various center stages of the pandals is both intense and extraordinary… something I hope to photograph in the future.

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20 thoughts on “Photo-Essay | The Goddess and Mortals of Durga Puja

      1. It is. Jaipur has a large Bengali population primarily engaged in jewelry industry. Therefore Durga Puja is celebrated with much enthusiasm here as well among this community. Delhi too has a large Bengali population!

        Liked by 1 person

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