Every year, Govind Nath’s workshop, located inside the Kali Mandir complex in Chittaranjan Park, would be filled with idols — each 20-30 feet tall — sculpted by him and his team of 12. This year, he sits alone in the middle of seven sets of idols, none taller than 5 feet.
His team, which travels from Bengal four months before Durga Puja every year, did not do so this time as Nath (48) didn’t have work for them. “Why would I call them when I know I can’t pay them?” he said, as he gave final touches to the smaller idols.
He began making the idols a month ago, by first creating the structure with bamboo, steadying it with straw, and sculpting with clay. Once the sculptures were dry, he painted them with organic colours made from multani mitti and tamarind powder.
Besides the CR Park Kali Mandir, he receives orders for idols from areas such as Faridabad, Kalkaji Extension and Gurgaon. “In other years, idols would be taken out of India as well,” said Nath.
While the price of the idols usually starts from Rs 40,000 — with orders for 40-50 idols every year — this year, the smaller idols are priced around Rs 20,000. “In a day or two, the idols will be finished,” Nath said, as he added pleats to a red Banarasi saree donned by his biggest Durga idol this year for the CR Park pandal.
Even though the Delhi government relaxed the ban on public gatherings, Durga Puja will be low-key as there is a cap of 200 people in enclosed spaces. “That is why most idols are 4-5 feet tall this time,” said Nath.
Hailing from Behala in Kolkata, Nath’s family shifted to Delhi’s Govindpuri when he was a child. He said he learned the art of sculpting from his father when he was 10. The third-generation sculptor said, “I am the only one in my family who is still making idols. It’s not easy as there is a great deal of responsibility.”
Meanwhile, celebrations at CR Park are low-key with just one pandal instead of the usual nine. Sreebash Bhattacharjee, secretary, CR Park Kali Mandir Society, said, “We used to have idols that were 18 feet tall. This year, it is just a Pujo, not a Pujo celebration.”
He added, “Bhog and prasad will be delivered to homes of those who register with the society; the Anjali will be streamed live on YouTube.” Only six people will be allowed inside the pandal at a time, including the organisers and dhaki (drummer), he said.
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