AP PHOTOS: Kolkata artists paint, mold idols for Durga Puja

Oct 2, 2022, 12:37 PM | Updated: Oct 3, 2022, 1:02 am
Devotees pray before an idol of Hindu goddess Durga on the second day of Durga Puja festival in Kol...

Devotees pray before an idol of Hindu goddess Durga on the second day of Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

(AP Photo/Bikas Das)

              Devotees pray before an idol of Hindu goddess Durga on the second day of Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              Devotees leave their sandals outside in reverence as they arrive to offer prayer to Hindu goddess Durga inside a makeshift worship place on the second day of Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              People offer prayers at a makeshift worship venue on the first day of Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              A woman hangs clothes outside her house, beside an unfinished idol of Hindu goddess Durga ahead of Durga Puja festival at Kumortuli, the potters' place, in Kolkata, India, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              People walk past studios filled with idols of Hindu goddess Durga ahead of Durga Puja festival at Kumortuli, the potters' place, in Kolkata, India, Sept. 19, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              An unfinished clay idol of Hindu goddess Durga is wrapped with plastic sheet on a roadside temporary studio to protect it from the rain, ahead of Hindu festival Durga Puja at Kumortuli, the potters' place, in Kolkata, India, Sept. 11, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              An artisan works on an idol of Hindu goddess Durga ahead of Durga Puja festival at Kumortuli, the potters' place, in Kolkata, India, Sept. 18, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              A man walks in a lane filled with idols of Hindu goddess Durga ahead of Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Sept. 18, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              Laborers unload a clay idol of Hindu goddess Durga from a truck to place at a worship site ahead of Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Sept. 27, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              Artisans prepare decorations for idols of Hindu goddess Durga ahead of Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Sept. 19, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              Laborers carry an idol of Hindu goddess Durga towards a worship place ahead of Durga Puja festival at Kumortuli, the potters' place, in Kolkata, India, Sept. 26, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              Artisans work on idols of Hindu goddess Durga ahead of Durga Puja festival at Kumortuli, the potters' place, in Kolkata, India, Sept. 11, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              Laborers wait to load clay idols of Hindu goddess Durga at Kumortuli, the potters' place, ahead of Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Sept. 27, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              Artisans busy finishing an idol of Hindu goddess Durga at a studio as onlookers walk through an alley ahead of Hindu festival Durga Puja at Kumortuli, the potters' place in Kolkata, India, Sept. 19, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              Clay idols of Hindu goddess Durga stand at an artisan's studio ahead of Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Sept. 18, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              An man walks past an artisan working on a clay idol of Hindu goddess Durga at his roadside temporary studio ahead of Durga Puja festival at Kumortuli, the potters' place, in Kolkata, India, Sept. 18, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              A man sprays color on idols of Hindu goddess Durga ahead of Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Sept. 11, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              An artisan prepares an idol of Hindu goddess Durga ahead of Durga Puja festival at Kumortuli, the potters' place, in Kolkata, India, Sept. 19, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              Laborers pull a clay idol of Hindu goddess Durga to load on a truck ahead of Durga Puja festival at Kumortuli, the potters' place, in Kolkata, India, Sept. 26, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              An artisan works on an idol of Hindu goddess Durga ahead of Durga Puja festival at Kumortuli, the potters' place, in Kolkata, India, Sept. 18, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              A man walks in a lane filled with idols of Hindu goddess Durga ahead of Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Sept. 18, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              Laborers unload a clay idol of Hindu goddess Durga from a truck to place at a worship site ahead of Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Sept. 27, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              Artisans prepare decorations for idols of Hindu goddess Durga ahead of Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Sept. 19, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              Laborers carry an idol of Hindu goddess Durga towards a worship place ahead of Durga Puja festival at Kumortuli, the potters' place, in Kolkata, India, Sept. 26, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              Artisans work on idols of Hindu goddess Durga ahead of Durga Puja festival at Kumortuli, the potters' place, in Kolkata, India, Sept. 11, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              Laborers wait to load clay idols of Hindu goddess Durga at Kumortuli, the potters' place, ahead of Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Sept. 27, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              Artisans busy finishing an idol of Hindu goddess Durga at a studio as onlookers walk through an alley ahead of Hindu festival Durga Puja at Kumortuli, the potters' place in Kolkata, India, Sept. 19, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              Clay idols of Hindu goddess Durga stand at an artisan's studio ahead of Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Sept. 18, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              An man walks past an artisan working on a clay idol of Hindu goddess Durga at his roadside temporary studio ahead of Durga Puja festival at Kumortuli, the potters' place, in Kolkata, India, Sept. 18, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              A man sprays color on idols of Hindu goddess Durga ahead of Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Sept. 11, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              An artisan prepares an idol of Hindu goddess Durga ahead of Durga Puja festival at Kumortuli, the potters' place, in Kolkata, India, Sept. 19, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            
              Laborers pull a clay idol of Hindu goddess Durga to load on a truck ahead of Durga Puja festival at Kumortuli, the potters' place, in Kolkata, India, Sept. 26, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
            Devotees pray before an idol of Hindu goddess Durga on the second day of Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das) Devotees leave their sandals outside in reverence as they arrive to offer prayer to Hindu goddess Durga inside a makeshift worship place on the second day of Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das) A woman hangs clothes outside her house, beside an unfinished idol of Hindu goddess Durga ahead of Durga Puja festival at Kumortuli, the potters' place, in Kolkata, India, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das) People offer prayers at a makeshift worship venue on the first day of Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, India, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das) An unfinished clay idol of Hindu goddess Durga is wrapped with plastic sheet on a roadside temporary studio to protect it from the rain, ahead of Hindu festival Durga Puja at Kumortuli, the potters' place, in Kolkata, India, Sept. 11, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das) People walk past studios filled with idols of Hindu goddess Durga ahead of Durga Puja festival at Kumortuli, the potters' place, in Kolkata, India, Sept. 19, 2022. The five-day festival commemorates the slaying of a demon king by goddess Durga, marking the triumph of good over evil. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

KOLKATA, India (AP) — Spirits are soaring in India’s “City of Joy” as tens of thousands of people jostle on Kolkata’s streets in celebration of “Durga Puja,” the most important festival of the Bengali community.

The five-day festival that began Saturday is marked by prayers to the Hindu goddess Durga, feasts, rejoicing, music, dance and drama marking the victory of good over evil. People visit richly illuminated and decorated community centers with idols of Durga and other goddesses worshipped by the Bengali community.

This year’s Durga Puja in West Bengal state in eastern India comes after two years of pandemic curbs on large gatherings and follows UNESCO’s recognition of Kolkata’s festival as part of the “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”

Artists began preparing for the festival months ago by making thousands of clay idols in Kumortuli, the oldest potters’ colony in Kolkata.

The art district has mushroomed in an unplanned way in congested narrow alleys and lanes on the eastern bank of the Hooghly River. Studios dot the area with no concrete construction or proper doors. The artists use the space as their home-cum-studios with common facilities.

With their work growing in popularity, the artisans have introduced fiberglass idols and and export miniature idols of Durga to the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, Bahrain and other countries.

The work begins with a skeleton of bamboo and wood, which the artist methodically binds with paddy straw to give it a human shape. The artist then places clay over the human-shaped dolls.

The faces of the idols are molded or even handcrafted. The clay is collected from the Hooghly River and mixed with small hay pieces and wood dust collected from sawmills. The artists paint the idols in colors chosen by their customers.

The U.N. cultural agency last December included the Durga Puja in Kolkata on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Eric Falt, UNESCO director in New Delhi, said the inscription would encourage the communities that celebrate Durga Puja, including traditional craftspeople, organizers and visitors.

Kolkata was nicknamed “The City of Joy” after a 1985 novel by Dominique Lapierre with the same name that was adapted as a film by Roland Joffé in 1992. The theme centered on people’s joyous spirits overcoming hardships.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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AP PHOTOS: Kolkata artists paint, mold idols for Durga Puja