When I was asked to write the foreword for this book I jumped at the chance. The reason was actually two-fold: one, it comes with immense respect for the work the author has been doing for years in the field of art and design, and second, is the content of the book – being a Bengali who has grown up amidst culture surrounding the Durga Puja fervour (if Bengal was a country and Bengalis its only nationals, then Durga Puja would have been the national festival), the impact which the festival has on the lives of Bengalis and non Bengalis alike is just incredible. Needless to say that any individual who would have at least once in a lifetime been to a puja pandal, have a story to tell and probably reminisce their first crush, first love, the marriage proposal, the endless adda (intellectual fun group discussion) with friends, the food, the dance and the fashion. In India it is the only festival where the celebration spans for one month and includes holidays for a week.
As Pablo Picasso once said that “art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life,” this book makes me realise the importance of this axiom. When I picked up the first draft to read, it gave me an impression of being just a coffee table book; but then when I delved into the text I was introduced to the sociology behind the making of not just an idol but, the artisans, their working conditions and the contribution made by each and every member of the artisan family. The book chronicles the entire process of the idol-making, from the bamboo-jute skeleton to the complete bridal finery of the Goddess which mesmerises you, along with bringing up the poignancy of the kumbhars, the Pal community and the tradition which cascades through generations. It would help the reader to realise the richness of the culture, the roots, the intricate handiwork and the months of dedicated hardships which goes behind the making of idols.
This book is also a beautiful amalgamation of literature and art, telling the reader a story like a garland of events and information. The pictorial graffiti presents a feast to the eyes of the reader, almost making it alive and vivid.
Interestingly, as you come to believe that all pictures are black-and-white, you are promoted to another level of visual feast with the introduction of colour photographs which breaks the monotony. The change to color acts as a metaphor to emphasise the transition process of inducing colour into the shape of the idols by the artisans.
To anyone who wishes to know the history behind one of the important festivals of the country, I recommend this book with utmost enthusiasm.
It is a unique and exceptionally intelligent work that brings a fresh and profound perspective into the sociology of art and lives of the artist. It will warm the hearts of the readers and enthusiast photographers alike.
– Dr. Rituparna Majumdar
Academician & Social Entrepreneur
A full time academician and Lecturer in Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida and a Founder-Head of Etico Consultancy, Rituparna is a ISO26000 expert and is in the expert panel of GoodWeave International, Fair Wear Foundation and Consumer Goods Forum. Being a Bengali, she is an art connoisseur by birth and loves to sketch, travel, read and strum guitar in leisure.