Durga Puja 2019 update: It has begun, they are rolling out

Durga Puja 2019: Trucks carrying statues of Goddess Durga roll out from a workshop in Chittaranjan Park, Delhi.

The Durga Puja statue workshop in south Delhi’s Bengali neighbourhood Chittaranjan Park that we visited three weeks ago has fallen silent as the last few of the finished work has left for the pandals. Trucks carrying the crisp, new statues of the Goddess in her full attire rolled out from the gate as men in jeans - their paunch not pushed in because it was celebration time and no one was looking - beat drums and danced about her. A few men smoking beedi outside the gate looked at them and laughed.

Groups of families sat on red plastic chairs inside the mostly vacant shed, which had no space to walk only a few days ago when the workers opened cans of kerosene-smelling paint in the last leg of the season’s toil. The families who would be keeping private pandals had placed big orders. They came in their SUVs. Behind them a rustic Tata 407 that looked like it has been dug out from its grave appeared - like a Dabur Amla-soaked house help walking behind her employer who released a waft of Godrej Ezee detergent.

The floodlights lit up at the workshop’s lawn as the last truck rolled out from the gate. Seven men on the cargo bed kept an eye on the statue to protect it from overhead wires and low tree branches. Two of them held long wooden poles that either pushed away the hanging wires or held them higher for the truck to pass through.
Advice (mostly in Bangla) is shouted at them from all directions, including from people who were passing by - “Push the wire here,” “Don’t do that,” “See that branch, break it,” “Don’t come on the wrong side.”
No one asked if those are high-tension electric wires. (There’s an office of the power distributor BSES Rajdhani next to the workshop).

The truck moved at a pace that would guarantee it the second place in a race with a blob of Feviquick rolling down a hill. It blocked the narrow colony road and created a monumental traffic jam. Sweat broke out in people as they waited for the truck to disappear from their sight and mind. No one didn’t say anything, after all Goddess Durga herself was on the cargo bed. This was not a cement bag truck that one could boss over, or use the "mera baap..." threat to demand right of way.

Everything is over in half-an-hour.

The labourers who would be sleeping at the workshop turned off the light at the far end of the shed, from where all the statues have been sent away to the pandals across Delhi and the epicentre of the festive season, Chittaranjan Park. Less than five small statues remained. They would be painted in a jiffy and sent away to homes that have set up exclusive, private pandals for friends and family.

Real estate developers that sponsor several expensive public pandals at this neighbourhood also gift statues to families who have a say in the Puja management. It’s good public relations and good business.

This workshop will be shut down after the festival is over in a few days. By next monsoon the wooden shed would have collapsed. It will then be resurrected a month before the next Durga Puja. The workers will return from Bengal to make a living in the festive season.

You will have also turned a year older by then.

journey basket wishes you all a very happy Durga Puja. May you kill your demons.

Durga Puja 2019: More than making the statues, the most difficult part of the process is to load them on the cargo bed of a truck for transport to pandals. Any mistake will cost dear. There is no room for a second chance.

Durga Puja 2019: Dancing Kings.

Durga Puja 2019: Families come with hired trucks to take away custom statues they have ordered for private pandals.

A man leans against a statue of Goddess Durga at the workshop. He's confident of the build quality, while the people around him warned him against applying pressure on the clay statue. Most of the statues have been taken away to the pandals. A few remaining ones are waiting for the Tata 407 to pick them up.

Durga Puja 2019: This shed had no space to walk only a few weeks ago. Now it's mostly empty. The remaining statues are waiting for transport.

Durga Puja 2019: Last-minute colouring.

The last three and the first three months of the year are usually packed in the blogging calendar. It’s only a guidance for things to cover, but it’s not necessary that they will have to turn into content. It’s a lot of fun. Planning makes a hobby go pro and larger than it really is. Keep it grand 😀

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