Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 40, Tuesday, October 12, 2010



Special Feature

Behind the scenes
Idols and their makers

At 52 Shakhari Bazar, in a small crammed workshop, Haripada Pal is putting the final touches to his beloved goddess Durga. Totally clueless of time and space, Haripada continues to work passionately and devotedly; he has a deadline to meet. With Durga Puja upon us, Haripada has to deliver his idols on time. The hot and humid conditions in his small shop, the buzzing of mosquitoes or the grumbling in his stomach; nothing seems like reason enough for him to stop.

It is because of many such long nights and similar amounts of devotion that we have before us the idols as they stand today- resplendent in all their glory and ready to kickstart the festival.

The Pals or idol makers have just worked through the busiest time of their calendars, with the biggest festival of the Hindu community, Sharodiyo Durgotsab coming up on October 17. Durga Puja is most widely celebrated in Bangladesh and West Bengal. The Devi or Goddess Durga symbolises power and the triumph of good over evil in Hindu mythology. Durga Puja starts with the arrival of Devi Durga and ends with her immersion into a river.

The Pals or Kumars have been moving from one place to another to make the idols and they have worked all through the day and well into the night. The Pals are artisans who have come into this profession from hereditary origins, with this line of work being in their family for generations.

Haripada Pal is a famous pal from Shakharibazar, who has finished making the Durga idol in Narayanganj before coming back to work in his locality. Although he has been receiving orders for over four months now, he has had to be selective and has thus decided to make six sets of idols this year.

The amount of time needed to make each set of idols depends on quality, design and the number of assistants Haripada works with. On average, it takes three to four days to make the basic life-size structure, which reaches near-completion within a week and another four days to colour the deity.

The materials used include wood, bamboo, straw, jute yarn, jute, three types of clay, sand paper and used old and soft clothes. Wood and bamboo are used to make the base of the set, straws are tightened with jute yarn to give shape to different body parts of the deity and chopped jute is mixed with clay to strengthen it. After drying this mud, the jutes edges are burnt to smoothen the idol.

The cost of making these sculptures varies according to quality, design and the type of ornamentation used to decorate Durga. If the designs are complex and the ornaments used to beautify the goddess are expensive, the cost of production rises. The costs vary between Tk20000 and Tk50000 and above.

Haripada Pal started loving his artwork since his childhood. He felt a passion to work in this genre of fine arts when he saw his grandfather and father creating mud sculptures. He took training from Bulbul Academy of Fine Arts (BAFA), from Calcutta and from Charukola Institute of Dhaka University. He took part in the Washington International Festival by invitation of Henry H. Glassie in 2002. Glassie is a folklorist and emeritus college professor of Folklore at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Throughout the rest of the year, Haripada Pal creates other sculptures according to order. He makes cement mannequins which are used in clothing stores. “The government can take measures to establish schools to inspire people to learn this form of art,” suggested Haripada Pal. “When any one is involved with any kind of art work and he passionately loves it, he can remain safe from the dark sides of society. Any creation of art is a way to be close to God,” said the artisan.

By Mahtabi Zaman
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed


Your beauty and Ayurveda

With the largest festival of the Hindu community, Durga Puja, knocking at the door, the focus for many has shifted to looking their best possible on the big day. For many this will be the most important day of the year and hence there is almost a requirement to look fresh and beautiful. In this regard, there is good news for women. Harmony spa, an Ayurveda beautification centre is offering various services at reasonable prices.

'Ayurveda' translates to 'science of life'. It is a form of a religious treatment which focuses on the belief that a relationship exists between a patient and their existing physician. Ayurvedic practitioners developed a number of medicinal preparations and surgical procedures for the treatment of various ailments and diseases.

“Harmony spa is the only Ayurveda beautification centre in Bangladesh,” said their Chief Executive Officer, Rahima Sultana Reeta. According to her, the speciality of this Ayurveda programme is that the Harmony employees transfer a positive energy through their services. They want to affect not only the body but also the client's mind and make him/her think bright and maintain a positive attitude. To be able to provide this special service four chief masseuses were taken to Kerala for training, informed Rahima.

Harmony spa offers both single service and different courses based on Ayurveda treatment for women of all ages. The single services are Ayurvedic Dosha Facial, Ayurvedic Neema Facial, Ayurvedic Anti Wrinkle, Ayurvedic Talam Hari, Chakradhara, Abhyanga, Podikkizhi and Ilakkizhi, Navarakkizhi, Shirodhara, Sarvangadhara, Ayurvedic Snana, Manikarma, Pedikarma and head, back and foot massage.

These treatments are diverse and vary from brightening and revitalising skin to anti-ageing processes to manicures and pedicures. The cost of single services range between Tk 1500 to 2500.

The package programmes of Harmony are the combination of these single services tailored to the client's need. There are pre and post bridal packages, pre and postnatal packages and many others. The duration of the package programmes are from one day to six months long. Cost of the package programmes can vary from Tk 5000 to Tk 20,000.

If you walk into Harmony, you will be met by a counsellor who will listen to your problems and questions. Later, following the examination of the client's skin type, the counsellor will recommend a service.

Clients are also provided with a diet chart. Oils and pastes used in these services at Harmony are prepared at the service centre. Most of the herbs are imported from Kerala.

Rahima completed her one-year Panchakarma Ayurveda course from Kerala. She finished a diploma on spa treatment from Thailand and a diploma on pre and postnatal course and a Javanese course from Indonesia. Rahima is currently enrolled in a four-year program on Ayurveda from Ayurvedic College in Bangladesh.

“Food and beauty are inseparably related with one another. Proper digestion is the key factor for sound health,” says Rahima.

“Three things are basic requirements for ensuring healthy skin,” she continues. “These are proper cleaning, protection from sun rays and dust and proper moisturising according to skin type. The harmony of the body, mind and soul are the most important factors for the harmony of life.”

By Mahtabi Zaman
Photo courtesy: Harmony spa




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