The Goddess With Ten Hands

Durga Puja, undoubtedly,

is one of the greatest street-art festivals on the planet. 

So it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that this popular Indian festival also has the distinct reputation of being a total assault on one’s senses. But in a good way! The grandeur, the emotion, the excitement are all contagious. Much more than simply worshipping a Goddess, it is a celebration of life. In the city of Kolkata, also known to many by its previous name Calcutta, in a fine example of the rich culture, heritage and liveliness, people go looking for artistic marvels. This is by no means an easy task! If you’re looking to learn about the diversity of India, be sure to look into the secret recipe that makes up this Indian festival truly magnanimous. If you’re the kind who’s not easily daunted by large crowds, then go dive right in, and mingle through the celebrating masses. If, however, you’re the kind who’s shy and removed and in need of a firm push, then there’s another way in which you can satiate your curiosity.

The main hub of the creative process takes place in Kumartuli, in a suburb of this great city. It’s traditionally a quarter made for artists and potters, where months of planning and hectic sculpting of the over two-thousand clay idols of Goddess Durga that will be not only scattered throughout the city, but also exported all over the world.   

Just in the city of Kolkata, each year there are no less than a couple of thousand pandals – the nerve centers where the idols are displayed – and the action happens. But how are these idols made? Here’s the behind-the-scenes story of how thousands of talented artisans and sculptors work to bring Goddess Durga and her family to life.

Kumartuli, a suburb of this great city, is where the main hub of the creative process takes place. It’s traditionally a quarter made for artists and potters, where months of planning and hectic sculpting of the over two-thousand clay idols of Goddess Durga that will be not only scattered throughout the city, but also exported all over the world. Some of the finest quality renditions of the goddess and her entourage – her two sons, two daughters, and her arch nemesis Asura the demon – are crafted here.

Want to see these artisans at work? Make sure you hit the area a few weeks prior to the festival and carry your camera and video equipment to capture the lasting memories. Especially leading up to the festival, you’ll find them around-the-clock near the roadside and inside the sheds lined up to give cover and secrecy to their work.

The festival takes place sometime in September or October, depending on what the religious calendar points at for that year. Schools remain closed for at least a week, and most locals take family vacation most seriously during this time.

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