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The Tradition Of Making Durga Idol With Soil From Sex Worker’s House

No festival is complete without its own set of myths. Traditions invented for the relatively new Durga Puja invoke a community society chooses to forget.

The Tradition Of Making Durga Idol With Soil From Sex Worker’s House
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The Tradition Of Making Durga Idol With Soil From Sex Worker’s House
outlookindia.com
2021-10-08T23:13:37+05:30

As a child, Shantanu Pal (name cha­nged), a potter in Calcutta’s Kumartuli, would be intrigued when his father, a reputed idol maker, would instruct his helper to get ready and leave in the dead of nig­ht. The hel­per would be back by early morning with mud wra­p­­ped in newspapers in a nylon bag, wash his hands and feet and change clothes. His father would then ask the helper if he had any trouble, and he wou­­ld answer yes or no, gig­g­l­ing at his own narration of victory. This would usually happen at the beg­­i­n­ning of mon­­soon, some 3-4 mon­ths before Durga Puja.

Growing up, Pal realised his father had pious intentions behind sending the helper at that hour to collect soil from outside the door of a sex-worker at Sonagachhi, Asia’s largest red-light area, to make his Durga idols.

Soil from outside the door of a sex worker is considered mandatory for making Durga idols, but sex workers have often resented the practice, and, according to some artisans of Kumar­tuli, the hub...

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