Visakhapatnam: Idol makers heave a sigh of relief this festival season

Visakhapatnam: Idol makers heave a sigh of relief this festival season
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Ahead of Ganesh Chathurti festival, an artisan giving finishing touches to an idol in a makeshift workshop in Visakhapatnam

Highlights

Artisans hope that the festival season brings them cheer unlike a lull period witnessed last time

Visakhapatnam: Ganesh Chathurti is one of the festivals that is celebrated both indoors as well as outdoors.

With the festival falling on September 10 this year, artisans who make idols for the festivities hope that the season brings them cheer unlike a lull period witnessed last time.

Along with the local artisans, many also arrive from Kolkata and other places to make a living out of the traditional idol-making craft. This year, the artisans pin hopes on the forthcoming festivities.

As coronavirus cases gradually becoming stable in Visakhapatnam, idol makers are getting busy with the orders trickling in for the festival.

Though the orders are not as encouraging as they expect, idol makers say that the year is comparatively better than the previous one.

Bringing home 21 varieties of leaves (patri) and fresh flowers, arranging a mini-pandal and offering fruits and homemade sweetmeats and savouries to appease the elephant-headed God, people celebrate Ganesh Chathurti with fervour at home.

At pandals, Ganesh puja is celebrated on a grand scale from day-long celebrations to 21-day festivities. And the preparations for this festival would commence much ahead. This includes installing pandals, decking up large idols, highlighting themes, and hosting cultural programmes wherein the blaring audio sets continue to play out devotional songs for long hours throughout the day.

In Visakhapatnam, pandals housing thematic Ganesh idols such as cricket-playing Ganesh and dining Ganesh were a common sight. There were also pandals that grabbed the top place in the state for the installation of a mammoth idol and entered Guinness World Records for Ganesh holding his favourite and biggest laddu.

This year, as the daily caseload is on the decline, the enthusiastic idol makers are engaged in pouring life to the idols of Lord Ganesh in varied sizes and shapes in the makeshift workshops. Raju Pal, an artisan from Kolkata, says, "For the last 15 years, we have been making idols in Visakhapatnam. The work for Ganesh puja commences five months prior to the festivities. Every year, we make idols that vary from three-ft to 15 ft. Depending on the orders we receive, work will begin. But last year, it was a different scenario. We had to go for other work as business came to a grinding halt due to the pandemic restrictions. However, we hope to make up for the lost business time this year."

Based on the permission granted by the authorities concerned, the work for the artisans is expected to increase in the coming days. "At present, we are designing idols that are three-ft to five-ft long. Sales are yet to pick up. Once orders start pouring in, we will customise them accordingly. But to bring down operational loss, we intend to make only half the quantity of idols which we used to make during pre-Covid times," shares Santosh, another Kolkata-based idol maker, giving finishing touches to a Ganesh idol.

As idol makers are looking forward to a bright festival season this year, they do mention that the pandemic has certainly left an impact on their otherwise roaring business. And if a similar situation arises this time, a majority of them might give up the line of work for good and opt for alternative sources of income.

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