Saturday, August 25, 2012



Durga the warrior- Bhabotosh Sutar,2011

DurgaPuja occupies a very special  space in a Bengali's heart - and I am no exception. The problem is that I do not have a big bag of photos to fall back upon to enliven my memory. The earliest memory of Puja in Calcutta I have is that of a visit to Kumortuli with my grandfather when I was 4 or 5 years old, of the crowd of Sanghasree,Calcutta and  the impressive Durga idols of 23 Pally, crafted by Jiten Pal.

In the past also, I have written about Jiten Pal, one of whose work now stand at a permanent pavilion of  23 Pally/Harish Mukherjee Road. The one which is etched in my memory is of Devi turning away from beheaded Mahishasura , carrying his head in her hand, much like that of the concept of Candika, her face angry yet triumphant.Jiten Pal could create a dynamic posture in a confined space which no one could in his time. That brings me to Bhabotosh Sutar whose 'Durga' at Naktala last year, (i.e. 2011)  had tremendous pace, one of the finest I have come across.

Traditional Durga , slightly heavy face, eyes angry , ornate headgear.

 It will be endevour during months ahead to find out photos of Jiten Pal's work and post them in internet. Let us now return to 2011. 2011 has been a remarkable year for  at least two major artists in the scenario - Bhabotosh Sutar and Sanatan Dinda.

Very unconventional Durga at Barisha Sristi (Behala) , 2005.
Idol of timber by  Bhabosh Sutar.

Bhabotosh Sutar  is quite an innovative artist - I recall his  good work on timber at Barisha in 2005. Those were the days of  early digital camera. Hence the photos were of smaller sizes. Another word of apology - I did not keep a note.Hope, I am not mixing up the artists ! If we compare this idol with what he did at Naktala, his growth will be clear.

Durga vanquishes Mahishasura (in buffalo form - exuding his animal prowess) .  Her sword is her spear. 
What momentum captured in this brass&mahogany idol! 
Bhabotosh Sutar,2011.

 I have a photo of another idol from Tollygunge area , taken during 2008. A typical 'putul-putul thakur' -  doll-like appearance -  of the present decades. Artists around Calcutta have exhausted the possibilities of this type of craft - short hands, static posture, big eyes,soft colour , face directly towards the viewers. Except for .... there is a big 'BUT'. This has a big similarity to the 2011 idol of Bhabotosh Sutar.  When a  scholar will study the transition of  style of depictions in 'Baroyari Puja' of Calcutta over the decades, s/he will dig into such details and chronicle the same.

Long curved horns of Mahishasura ( in buffalo form - here his animal power squashed) split the imagery in two equal vertical parts !   Tollygunge area -2008.

 I have seen the trend of Santan Dinda's evolution as an artist in creating a niche for him in Durga Puja in Calcutta. I have heard that before he started working for Hatibagan Sarbajaneen, he worked in a smaller way in a lane in Kumartuli. I am trying to get a photo of that Puja. But, from whatever I have in my HDD and what are available in internet, one can see Sanatan evolved over the years. He studied  Buddhist and Hindu Tantrik Iconography and assimilated well before he reached the level of 2011. I shall give an example - in 2010, he used the motif of lotus with long vertical stem at Nalin Sarkar Street before making this symbol  a major decoration item  in 2011 at Chakraberia.

 Nalin Sarkar Street, 2010 and Chakraberia Sarbajanin,2011.
Sanatan Dinda evolving .

The white big eyes with black dots as pupils are similar to Sanatan's work at Nalin Sarkar Street in 2004. But, clearly, as an image-maker, Sanatan is evolving every year - a gain for Puja revelers , a path to trail for chroniclers !


R Niranjan Das said...

Nice article.

siddeshwar said...

Hello Sir. This is a very interesting article with colorful pictures of Durga Devi. Enjoyed readinng it.

While WB prepares for Durga Pooja, Karnataka and Maharastra prepare for Ganesh Chaturti.


Thanks for appreciating this post !

I have been at Pune during 2 Ganapati pujas during '90s. I still have fond memories of the festivity.

Partha Mukherjee said...

Very nice to see this post. Very good observation analysis indeed...looking forward for more.
...learning infact..