There is a workshop near my home in Noida, east of Delhi, where sculptors mould clay into idols of Hindu gods and goddess all through the year for festivals. These occasions mean brisk business for the craftsmen, who work in a makeshift hut covered by tin sheets. The idols sell for 500 to 700 rupees, depending on the size.
The idols of the goddess Durga and other characters in her story are being built because the Durga Puja is only a week away. I asked the people in the workshop if I could shoot, and they gave in after a bit of persuasion. The pictures that follow are of these craftsmen painting the idols of Durga.
The annual Durga Puja is a five-day festival commemorating the death of the buffalo demon Mahishasura at the hands of Hindu goddess Durga. Traditionally a festival celebrated in eastern India — it is the biggest festival in the state of West Bengal — Durga Puja is now celebrated in north India with much gusto and fanfare.
The head of buffalo demon Mahishasura.
A worker mixes paint for colouring idols.
Different paints for colouring Durga statues are seen in this photo.
A worker uses a brush to stir and mix paint in a mug.
A man outlines the eyes of Durga with a brush.
A worker gives shape to the eyes of a Durga idol.
Adding colour to the eyes of Durga.
A woman decorates a Durga idol.
Unfinished Durga idols are seen in the workshop.
Finished Durga idols are seen in this photo. The idols are dressed up and decorated before they are sent out to be sold.
The unfinished head of a lion, Durga’s mount, is seen in this photo.
An unfinished lion.
Durga idols, left in the open to dry.