Wednesday, January 21, 2009

BANGLADESH Security Guard Turns Into Sculptor Of Religious Statues

From: Union of Catholic Asian News.
RAJSHAHI, Bangladesh (UCAN) -- Dominic Mondol is focusing all his attention on two of the religious sculptures inside a metal hut, working with his painting tools to finish them in time.

The former security guard needs to deliver the statues of Saint Joseph and Mother Mary to a pastoral formation center at neighboring Dinajpur diocese by the end of the month.

Mondol, 51, created numerous religious statues for a decade as a part-time job alongside his work as a security guard for the Mennonite Central Committee offices in Dhaka. His wife, Rina, 45, helped him.

Last year, however, he left that job to dedicate his time to sculpting and became the only professional Catholic sculptor in Bangladesh.

"It has become my passion and profession, and it has changed my life," Mondol said at his village in Rajshahi diocese's Bonpara parish, 200 kilometers northwest of Dhaka.
"I can't imagine a day without doing this work!" he exclaimed.

Before Mondol got interested in sculpting, the Catholic Church in Bangladesh imported religious sculptures from India, the same place he found his inspiration.

In 1996, Mondol traveled to India's West Bengal state to visit his maternal uncle in Nadia. There, for the first time, he saw religious statues being made in his uncle's workshop. Intrigued by the process, Mondol brought his cousin, also a sculptor, back to Bangladesh to help him learn the profession.

For the next two years, Paul Baroi taught him the skills of making religious statues, from sculpting to painting. Mondol then began part-time production of statues of the Lord Jesus, the Blessed Mother, Saint Joseph, Saint Paul, Saint Anthony of Padua and Blessed Theresa.

The country's lone Catholic sculptor now supplies statues for religious sites, communities and individuals. Venues where they can be seen include the Catholic bishops' Christian Communications Center in Dhaka, the shrine of St. Anthony in Nagari, Dhaka, and the Marian shrines in Diang, Chittagong; Baromari, Mymensingh; and Nobai Bot-tola, Rajshahi.

Bishops, priests and nuns from various dioceses and parishes order from him, Mondol said. By his estimate, he is currently delivering religious statues in Dhaka worth about 300,000 taka (US$4,400) a year.

People also ask him to repaint old statues.

Fellow parishioners in Bonpara now call him murtiwala, the sculptor.

"Before entering this profession, I was nothing but a simple man to all, but now people look at me with respect," Mondol said. "My income is going up day by day."

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