Kurigram has a long tradition of celebrating the annual Hindu festival of Durga Puja, where huge crowds cutting across religious lines visit pandals just to have a glimpse of the idol of goddess Durga.
These idols are, in fact, sculpted from mud and straw by specialist artisans, before being taken to the pandals for worship for a week. And these artisans usually earn the most during the Hindu festive season. But the second wave of the pandemic has made them anxious about business again, with fears of muted celebrations looming large.
Pal Para and Kumar Para are the two localities of potters in Kurigram town, where artisans -- in normal times -- get irritated by usual distractions in the form of onlookers. But this year too, they are a worried lot and seemingly have all the time in the world to explain their plight. The situation is the same in other potter localities of the district, including Kathalbari.
Most of the potters claim to have received orders for just eight to 10 idols this year, and that too from puja committees in the district, as against the usual 20-22 in pre-Covid years.
"In 2020, we lost all our savings. This year, we were hoping for a turnaround to tide over the losses. Though the situation is marginally better this year, not a single artisan in the area has got an order from outside the district because of the second wave of the pandemic," says Kalikanto Pal, an artisan in Kathalbari.