Women idol makers make their presence felt
Overcome gender bias and win over sceptical customers.
managing her workshop, cooking and taking care of her 95-year-old mother.
Sharing her experience of making her path-breaking work, the Ardhanarishwar Durga idol, Chaina said: I made it on request of the transgender community in 2015. A few people didnt like it, but I do not care. I believe everyone has the right to worship the goddess. I haven›t heard about anyone else making such a figurine.
She upholds her family’s tradition by only making the sabeki ek- chalathakur(traditional Durga idols on a single platform) along with her family of Lord Ganesha, Kartikeya, Lakshmi and Saraswati.
Mala Pal broke stereotypes by not paying heed to what people said and joined in 1985. However, after her father’s death, the 15-yearold girl was encouraged by her brother, Gobinda Pal.
Pointing to a golden polished idol, the specialist said: I make detachable miniature idols of both types -traditional Banglar Mukh with large drawn eyes and also the modern ‹Art› patterns. They are popular in Europe, as also in Malaysia, Australia and Canada -- and US -- where Pujas are held.
The lack of space is clearly evident i n the studio, lined with small and medium sized idols. Dreaming of better work conditions, Mala said: “Though I have received recognition and rewards, I have got no other assistance from the state government. On their request, I organise workshops in government colleges and earn some extra money. Students come here at times, but this place is not sufficient to accommodate them”.
Moreover, the toilets are not proper for them. A better space is definitely desirable, added the woman who also makes beautiful terracotta jewellery.
Shaping the clay and etching the shapes needs dexterous fingers, but creating the base of huge idols using wood and the basic structure with bamboo needs immense strength. Mala›s father did not want his daughter to join in due to this very reason.
Speaking on the same lines, Chaina, who rarely takes a break, said:“I wouldn›t ask others to take up idol-making as it requires hard labour. It is true that for a woman it is too much, but if a person truly loves the art and is ready to sacrifice everything else, she can make a mark.
Chaina Pal standing beside an unfinished idol in Kolkata.