Akhil Midha is from Meenapur District of West Bengal. Around the year, Akhil makes several sculptures of different gods and goddesses. He learned the art of making sculptures of deities from his father and has been doing it for about two decades now.

Q1. How is the deity of Durga made?

The process of making a deity of Durga starts with making a wooden frame. The foundation is laid on an auspicious day according to the calendar.  The basic foundation of the Murti is made by wood and then the texture is provided with figs and straws. This base is then layered by mud which is then carved into the final deity.  There is a special ritual where mud from ‘Kothavadi’ is mixed with the overall mud that is used to make the deity. It take about 10-12 days to make one murti of Durga.

A half-done sculpture of Maa Durga

Q2. Why do you use the mud from the ‘Kothavadi’?

It is a long carried tradition that we follow. A day is dedicated to this ritual.  Just how a Pooja or Havan can’t be done without Gangajal, Durga Maa’s murti cannot be made without the soil from the land of prostitutes. It is said that it makes the murti pure.

“Just how a Pooja can’t be done without Gangajal, Durga Maa’s murti cannot be made without the soil from the land of prostitutes. It makes the murti pure.”

Q3. What is the most important part of the Murti?

It has to be the face. If the face is not beautiful, crafted to perfection all the effort is kind of a waste. There is a very special importance given to the eyes of Durga. We here have a factory and so have already painted most of the eyes but otherwise, traditionally the eyes are painted on the day of Mahalaya and the first sight of Durga falls upon the offerings from people to please the goddess and make her feel welcomed.

Akhil painting the face of the Saraswati sculpture.

Q4. How many Pandals do you supply your murtis to?

This year we have made 32 murtis. In this area, we are the only oes who make Durga murtis in this area.  Our Murtis are supplied even to the pandals in Sonipat. Some of these pandals are like fixed for us, they only buy their murtis for us. There is this 5-10 year long bond based on trust and quality service.

Q5. What do you do rest of the year when it is not the season of Durga Pooja?

India is a culturally rich land and we have festivities lying one after the other. After Durga Pooja we make murti of Maa Kali for Kali Pooja, Maa Saraswati for Basant Panchami, Lord Ganesha for Ganesh Chaturthi etc. We make our living from these sculptures and painting jobs throughout the year.

Q6. Of all the murtis you make, which do you enjoy making the most?

I personally love making the murti of Maa Saraswati during Basant Panchami. It is easier and convenient for us and also helps us save a little money.

Q7. Why did you decide to come to Delhi from Kolkata?

I came to Delhi with another sculptor for some projects, we made some sculptors of cement and everything. In Kolkata there is an extensive demand of detailing in the murtis. A lot of effort goes into every murti and it causes us a lot of inconvenience. In Delhi, things are comparatively easier and less competitive and so after that, I decided to stay here.

Q8. Does this job help you earn enough to suffice your needs?

It helps us end the meets but that is it. The price of the murti ranges from Rs.16,000 to 60,000 depending on the size and detailing required by the client.

Q9. Do you like what you are doing?

We make Maa’s deity, obviously, it is a special job but it is difficult to meet ends, we are not paid too much, and so it becomes difficult. I think one never likes the job they do. It is okay, as long as it helps us survive.

Q10. Do you want to give a message to people?

Well, I do not have too much to say. Shubho Sharodiya to everyone!

A complete murti by Akhil and his team from last year.

 

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