A three minute walk from Shovabazar metro station takes you to Kumortuli , famous for a sculpting hot-spot which not only manufactures clay idols for various festivals but also regularly exports them, and the unprecedented side of the story is yet to be revealed.
So a visit to the renowned place ,which manufactures clay idols was an absolute bliss,and since Durga Puja is just around the corner, I was privileged enough to see artists with their atypical skills ,making idols of Lordess Durga,the epitome of greatest source of power.Hardly at a 5 minute walking distance, is situated Asia’s largest brothel,Sonagachi.Oh the Irony!
We tried to know more about the situation there,but no one bats an eye .After series of failed attempts,a lady (Identity not revealed) did speak to us .The anguish from her words was way too much for anyone of us . “It’s so hypocritical as a society.On one hand billions bow down to a lady ,and some ladies are forced into this swamp, either by traffickers or by lack of opportunities to earn money”,she told.
A man (identity not revealed) ,again shared his experience with us, how he has to accept the harsh reality and move on with it , since he resides near that locality.
The relationship between Lordess Durga ,and the Sonagachi sex-workers is decades old. According to an ancient Hindu-mythology, the making of the Durga idol is initiated with “punya-mitti” ,or dust from the doorsteps of the brothel . There are various theories related to it , some say the custom is followed because in the eyes of Lordess Durga everyone is equal,and some tag it the virtue of men, which they leave behind in the form of dust after leaving the brothel.
In 2014, the women of Sonagachi were no longer willing to part with their dust which seems completely logical. People who exploited them the entire year, worship idols of Durga with dust from their doorsteps,utmost hypocrisy? To protest against this, last year the sex-workers of Sonagachi denied their dust to the artisans. Rumours say some artisans, pretending to be clients, brought back the dust from Sonagachi while others got it after a lot of pleading.
There has been enormous debates,and surely there are more to follow.These sex-workers don’t have a long list of demands,all they want is identity.They too want to be a part of the society as they feel by their work,they absorb the filth of the world,and protect other women from sexual predators.
Why do we pray to some and prey on some?