A Socio Cultural walk through “Kumhartuli”

By Amrita Guha

The Wings, a Montessori and an activity centre had organised a heritage walk through the lanes of the famous Kumhartuli of north kolkata on 2nd October. Kumhartuli in the Northern fringes of Kolkata is an important place because of idol making and being the potters’ quarter of Bengal. The heritage walk concentrated on the process of idol making and the significance of Durga Puja.

In this walk, students of Sri Sri Academy from class 5 to 11 had enthusiastically turned up to get know how the idols of gods and goddesses are made by the artisans. There were around 15 kids from an NGO called Helping Hand was also present who being not so privileged also came to join the walk. The event started at around 10 am in the morning at Kumortuli where a story teller Kavita Gupta told the stories of goddess Durga to the children and also the cultural and religious significance of the festival.

After the story telling session, the students walk around the lanes of the potters’ quarter where they witnessed the idol making process. They learnt several things and the most important one being that Durga Puja is no longer just a religious festival but also has socio-economic implication. It is amazing to know how the hair of the idols comes from a muslim community of the outskirts of the city where the sole occupation of the poor villagers is making hair for the gods and the goddesses.

Isn’t it great to know that Durga Puja which is the greatest festival of the Hindus is not only limited to religious importance but has also spreaded wings to make social and economic impacts to other sections of the society?

The later part of the event took place in Baghbazar where the participants were taken to the workshop of China Pal, the lady who has been working hard for the last 22 years and has excelled in idol making, a profession where it has always been dominated by men. The workshop was brief and the students were guided to paint idols by the professionals. They were taken inside the workshop to witness how the idols were clothed and the paints were put. While speaking to Miss Neeta Kanoria, the director of Wings said it was a first heritage walk conducted by wings and she was overwhelmed by the responses. She also added that it was important to get aware of the culture of the city in which one lives.

Heritage walks are always very crucial for learning the histories and the stories of the city and its culture and students should always take part in such activities as most of the people living in the place are unaware of its own heritages and culture.