In conversation with Shankar Haldar, an Idol Maker from Kali Bari , Delhi

He was old and quite eager to share his experience with us. He was working with the clay; first he was taking up the liquid clay, and was filtering it. The small pebbles and stone would remain in the net. The filtered clay was poured in the utensil, which was then taken to corner in order to solidify a bit.

“So you are from Nadia as well?” I asked.
“Yes, I am from Jasola village of Nadia district”.

“Oh! So for how long you stay here for?”
“I am here as long as it takes to make the idols i.e. four to six months”

“So you are preparing the clay right? Tell me something about it.”
“Not actually preparing, just filtering the clay. Otherwise if all the stone and grit gets in then it will be problematic to put on the clay. After filtration, the clay is allowed to set. Then it is mixed with different quantity of water. Actually different consistency of clay is used for making different body parts. We apply many layers of clay, before the colouring. The final layering is done with the brush.”

“You make idols for rest of the year as well?”
“No, idol making is a seasonal job for me. My position is of a labour, so I work as a contract labour whole of the year. In kali Bari as well, I work on contract basis only. ”

“Why contract basis?”
“The payment is better in contract basis and secure. My family gets the pay every month. In Bengal, there is irregularity in work and payment.”

“How many people are there in your family?”
“Three. My son works as well. But he doesn’t make idols. ”

“So this isn’t the work that your family takes up?”
“Yes and no. My father used to be idol maker in Kumortulli, West Bengal. I actually got trained there only. But my son is not interested in this job.”

“Oh! You come here always to make the idols?”
“No. In fact it is my first time here. Before this I have been to different places like Kanpur, Jharkhand etc to make idols only. ”

“So you are satisfied with the income?”
“Well it’s not enough but manageable.”


Contact the idol makers at Kali Bari: 9810437220