With hardly a week left for the Ganesh Chaturthi festival, which is a widely celebrated in Goa, local clay idol artists are busy giving final touches to their idols to complete the work in time for the festival starting on September 2 .
The clay idol makers get quite a good business during this time of the year. They work hard and start their preparations for at least two to three months before the Ganesh Chaturthi. It may be noted that the cost of the clay Ganesh idols generally varies from Rs 1000 onwards depending on the artwork while the Sarvajanik idols generally cost more than Rs 10,000 depending on the size and the number of items involved in the artwork. Mostly every artist has his own list of customers who are not just relatives but those involved with the trade for decades. Some of the artists have been getting customers from neighbouring state of Maharashtra and artists have been doing this work with passion and interest for years.
A clay idol maker said that owing to the escalating cost of paint, labour and clay he faces difficulties. However he said, “I make idols not for business purposes but out of love and devotion for Lord Ganesh. We should avoid buying Plaster of Paris (PoP) Ganesh idols as it creates pollution when immersed in water. Clay idols are eco-friendly.”
The vendor added that, profit on the idols made from clay is not huge as the clay price is high and also the process of making the clay suitable for idol making is hard work and so labour is required. “These days it is difficult to get labourers and those available are costly and so the profit margin decreases,” he added.
A local artist said, “With increasing costs of raw materials local artists are finding it difficult keeping alive the tradition. However the faith in Lord Ganesh keeps us going. The Chitrashalas in state are busy giving finishing touches to clay idols of the deity as only few days have remained for the Ganesh festival.”
According to the information available from the sources, despite ban in the state on PoP idols, it still continues to be sold with the idols arriving from bordering states of Maharashtra and Karnataka. Mostly in the bordering villages just a couple of days before the Ganesh Chaturthi festival the number of Lord Ganesh idols made out of PoP have increased over the years.
“The Hindus consider Ganapati as the most important deity which is omnipresent and Ganesh Chaturthi which is popularly known as Chavath is the most widely celebrated festival of Goa. With Chaturthi fast approaching we the clay idol artists have begun to speed up our work to complete the idols in time. Most of us are working the full day and have to remain awake late night,” another clay idol maker
He disclosed that, the work begins well in advance to ensure that idols are available to customers on time as apart from making small idols for families several artists are also working on idols for Sarvajanik Mandals every year. The Ganesh idols are already on display and sale at various places in the state
It may be noted that there are some clay idol makers in the state who are keeping alive the tradition of making Ganesh idols, which was started by their forefathers and they say that as a business, it is not feasible in present times. Most of the idol makers belong to the potter community who inherited the art from their ancestors. They are trying to preserve the tradition for the coming generations, so that villagers will come to their homes to pick up the idols and these will be worshiped in every household.
Some clay Ganesh idol makers went on to say that some people go in for the Lord Ganesh idols made out of PoP as they are cheaper and can be purchased in large size instead of small clay idols of the same price. The PoP idols are also less heavy and can be easily transported. However residents who go in for PoP idols do not realize the environmental pollution it causes when immersed in water.
According to the information available from the sources, PoP is not a naturally occurring material and when idols made out of it are immersed in natural water bodies such as lakes, rivers and the sea, it causes water pollution. While idols made out of naturally occurring clay dissolve within hours of immersion in water. A PoP idol may take several months to fully dissolve and the chemicals present in it causes water pollution which is harmful to the aquatic life. The buying of clay Ganesh idols will help the local traditional clay idol artists and also help in keeping the environment clean.