Unperturbed by the morning chill, the artisan fixes his gaze at paper cuts making a few adjustments to the designs that will soon adorn the idol of his Goddess.
Nestling in the busy streets of Cox Town, lies a cosy retreat where several artists and artisans have gathered together to celebrate the age-old tradition of making Durga idols.
Hailing from the 400-year-old artistic town of Kumartuli, Tarun Pal and his team of 14 artisans (murtikaars) have made Bangalore their home for the past three months.
"My father Sri Sudhir Pal would visit Bangalore quite often. However, this year, he could not accompany me on this trip. I have been making idols for 20 years now and picked up the art of idol making from my father," said Pal.
Apart from resourcing raw materials like wood, bamboo, straw and mud locally, Pal also makes use of clay from the bed of River Hoogli to give his idols a smooth finish.
"First, we mix the local red mud with rice husks. The mixture is then kneaded properly so as to minimise cracks and make sturdy idols. Later, the soil from Hoogli is applied to the entire statue to smoothen out all cracks and give it a matte finish. Using a cotton cloth, all edges are rubbed vigorously to ensure that no cracks or smudges remain. In order to decorate the idol, we use intricate brocades and different kinds of jewellery from Kolkata," said Pal who added that the idols cost anywhere between Rs 5,000 to Rs 15,000.
With respect to design, the artist said that most Bengalis prefer keeping traditional idols which have Bangala mukh -- long faces painted in yellow and big eyes.
"These days, we also get a lot of orders from non-Bengali customers who prefer modern designs where the Devi has a round face and 'normal' eyes," informed the artist while etching finer details to one of the idols.
Mounted on bamboo and wood splinters, his idol collection ranges from the Bengali Durga idol where the Goddess is shown mounted on a lion slaying the demon Mahishasur to the Devi sitting on a tiger with eight hands.
Surrounded by divine figurines, as the artist explained the significance of each of his idols, he also expressed his concern about the future of this art form.
"Each idol has been created with a lot of care. My art is my life. I would like to share my knowledge with as many people as possible. The art of idol making is on the brink of extinction as not many youngsters are really aware of the intricacy and work that goes into making an idol," said Pal.