Women idol mak­ers make their pres­ence felt

Over­come gen­der bias and win over scep­ti­cal cus­tomers.

The Sunday Guardian - - Nation -

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.

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