Blessed with an exquisite handicraft items making skills, Erukula tribal families from Nellore district have migrated to the town, where their ware are sold like hot cakes.
The demand is huge and at least a dozen products are made of date palm sticks instead of traditional bamboo. Artisans are making these products near the Chilakalapudi Railway Station, on the way to Manginapudi beach from Machilipatnam. The prices of the products range from Rs.60 to Rs.500.
“Urban dwellers, who visit the beach, prefer several new models of flower baskets, bouquet baskets, and bed lamp baskets. However, the most sought-after hat is out of stock and new orders are being received for it,” Devarakonda Desayya told The Hindu. Like Desayya, his relatives and families belonging to Kovooru area in Nellore district have tapped the market demand for their products by just investing their labour and time. “We realised the taste of the customer and thus mastered the art of making different models of these baskets that suit the interest of customers,” said tribal families.
Adjacent to the Chilakalapudi railway station, the group of tribals have set up their temporary houses, where all the family members, including girls, join hands in completing their orders. The men collect the date-palm sticks from surrounding areas while the women artisans take the responsibility of selling those products, seen hanging to the branches of the trees on the roadside. “We wanted to return to our hometown by October, but had to withdraw the plan as the place has been established as a small shandy-cum-exhibition point of our works,” said Devarakonda Mosiah. Nevertheless, around 10 children in their school-going age are also busy competing with their elders to complete their target of producing handicrafts. Apart from customers in Machilipatnam, those visiting the Manginapudi Beach are also prime customers of these tribals’ products.