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Hectic days for local idol makers ahead of Ganesh Chaturthi

With the approach of Ganesh Chaturthi festival, most clay idol makers are busy giving finishing touches to the deity, reports Bhiva P Parab

With Ganesh Chaturthi around the corner local chitrashalas, the place where clay idols are made look busy these days. Most clay idol makers are caught up with last moment work on the Ganesh idols.

A grievance of the local artists is that there is increase in the costs of raw materials, and so they are finding it difficult keeping their traditional occupation alive.  However they said that, faith in Lord Ganesha keeps them going. A clay artist said, making idols from clay is our business and we have been getting reasonable profit over the years. The busy period begins some three months before the festival. The idol makers added that, owing to the escalating cost of paint, labour and clay, the most of the time they face difficulties and decrease in the profits.

Speaking on the price of the Ganesh idols an artist said that the cost varies from Rs 1000 onwards depending on the artwork. Overall idols which are worshipped by families at home are in the mid- range while, the Sarvajanik idols generally cost more than Rs 10,000.

For the clay idol makers the festival is a peak business time and they get themselves involved in the idol making keeping everything aside. However, the new generation is reluctant to come into this field and so idol makers face a shortage of helping hands. There are some clay idol makers in the state whose business was started by their forefathers. They point out that, residents come to their homes or chitrashalas to pick up the idols. The profit on the idols is not significant as the clay price is high and also the process of making the clay hard work. “Labourers are required but since it is difficult to get them those available are costly and so our profit margin decreases,” said an idol maker.

According to the information available from the sources, idol maker mostly have their own list of customers who are not just relatives but those involved with the trade for decades. Some artists get customers from neighbouring state of Maharashtra. The work begins well in advance in order to ensure that idols are available to households and also to the Sarvajanik Mandals..

The clay idol makers are against the plaster of Paris (POP) idols which still enter the state despite the ban. Each year POP idols from bordering states of Maharashtra and Karnataka, arrive in the state a couple of days before the festival.

The artists say that, POP idols should be discouraged  because they create pollution when immersed in water. Some people go in for the PoP idols because they are cheap and also less heavy than the idols prepared from clay. “It is easy to transport PoP idols but people who go in for them do not realize the environmental pollution caused when immersed in water,” said an idol maker.

According to the information available from the sources,  the individuals selling Plaster of Paris idols get better profit than clay idols, however, the Plaster of Paris is not a naturally occurring material and when idols made out of Plaster of Paris are immersed in natural water bodies such as lakes, rivers and the sea, it causes water pollution.

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