Bengal`s clay artists seek funds for medical needs

Kolkata: Plagued with eyesight problems, potters of Kumartuli, the world famous residence-cum-studios of clay modelling artisans of West Bengal, are planning to increase the seasonal fees for photographers to add to their medical camp fund.

The Kumartuli Mritishilpi Committee (artists` welfare association) which runs a medical camp for the potters twice a week is also hoping tourists and photographers who visit during the festive season can cough up some money on their own to help them.

"We have a seasonal ticket of Rs.50 starting from Saraswati puja in February each year. The funds we collect from it go towards arranging the weekly camps. We bring in doctors twice a week. Their consultancy fee and money for drugs are taken from that fund. However, this year we have collected lesser than last year," committee spokesperson Babu Pal told IANS Saturday.

"We are planning to increase the ticket price. Most of our workers have eyesight problems because of the intricate sculpting and painting of the idols," he said.

The camp has been on for the last 16 years.

The area in north Kolkata is the place where the life-like idols of Durga and her family are impeccably sculpted using clay and straw and virtually brought to life with paint, sarees and ornaments.

Durga puja, the biggest festival of the Bengali community, begins Sep 29.

According to Hindu mythology, goddess Durga, accompanied by her four children Ganesh, Kartik, Lakshmi and Saraswati, descends to Earth each year to visit her parents, thus leading to the celebration of Durga puja.

Pal said there was another welfare association, a minor one, which would levy Rs.10 per day starting this puja.

"The money they are collecting is not for a charitable purpose. It is mainly to keep away excess photographers whose activities cause distractions.

"We want people to visit and see our work. If they are happy to contribute on their own, then that is a huge gesture for the benefit of our community," Pal said.

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