BARISAL, BANGLADESH, October 12, 2013 (The Daily Star): The fifth annual reception for "Pauls and Kumars" (sculptors and artisans of statues) was held in Barisal city yesterday with a call to patronize these traditional statue makers, mainstream them into society, and give them professional recognition.
"Mritshilpi Sammelon O Sammanona Udjapon Parishad," an association in Barisal promoting the hard-up, unsung artists, organized the event at Aswini Kumar Hall, conducted by convener Sushanta Ghosh and coordinator Bappi Majumdar.
A total of 116 statue makers, including 11 females, from three of six districts of Barisal division-Barisal, Jhalakathi, and Pirojpur-were presented with crests, clothes and cash. The association has been honoring them since 2009, first of its kind in Bangladesh. Artisans from the three districts are registered with the parishad.
The speakers and participants said that for centuries, Pauls and Kumars had been keeping this ancestral profession alive even after living in abject poverty and without any social status and recognition as mainstream artists. After weeks of work ahead of Puja festivals, particularly Durga Puja which began on Tuesday night, these artists return home with an incidental amount of pay.
A team of five or six artisans needs 17-21 days for crafting a big statue, while the smaller ones take them 13-17 days. To ready a protima, they collect bamboos, hay, clay, wooden sticks, jute, and rice chaffs, among other articles. For all this, the team is paid US$322 to US$644. The mandap committees arrange their lodging and food.
The five-day Durga Puja, the biggest religious festival of Bangladesh Hindus, started on Thursday night at 550 Puja Mandaps of the district including 33 in the city. The festivity will come to an end through immersion of the statues and images of the deities in different rivers, canals, ponds with solemnities and religious rituals and exchange of greetings of Vijaya Dashami on Sunday.