Say this is the only time of the year they make some money

The simmering ‘T’ tussle may put a dampener on Ganesh Chaturthi festivities, fear idol-makers who foresee a slump in business this year.

The city becomes home to scores of migrant families, especially from parts of Rajasthan, who descend on the place a few months before the festival to design, mould and paint exquisite collection of Ganesha idols carved in Plaster of Paris (PoP).

The ‘Samaikyandhra’ agitation is a cause of worry for them. “Do you think it will dampen the festival spirit? Hope it doesn’t. It shouldn’t actually because it is connected to God. If a member in the family falls sick we don’t stop eating, do we?” mumbles Nidumolu Anjaneyulu, an artisan from Nagavarapadu in Gudivada.

Pointing to two of the 20-odd collection of his idols, designed on new concepts of a Ganesha perched atop a ‘Surya Ratham’ pulled by seven horses and a ‘Ganga Sivudu Ganesha’, Mr Anjaneyulu admits that initially he wanted to explore the ‘Samaikyandhra’ angle. “But I can’t afford to take a chance. If people reject it, the hard work will go waste,” he says.

Trying to position the idols in a row along Bandar Road at Ashok Nagar with the help of his assistants Yerni Babu, Subramanyam and Appala Raju, a confused Anjaneyulu relocates places to showcase them in the best possible angle. Talk to a few more artisans dotting almost every centre in the city and one finds echo of similar apprehensions. “This is the only time of the year when we make little money which keeps us going for next four-five months. But the atmosphere seems tensed due to Telangana issue and it may hit our business badly,” says Raju Bhukya, another idol-maker.

Larger idol-makers hire more workers to meet the targets. Despite growing concern over environmental degradation caused due to the immersion of idols made with Plaster of Paris, most sculptors have stuck to them precisely because they find them sturdy, lightweight and less expensive.

Skilfully trained Anjaneyulu has been making Ganesha idols for the last 20 years. Many like him throng the city which turns lucrative during Ganesh Chaturthi, a festival celebrated in all its splendour by groups of local devotees.

Talk about environmental damage, how rivers get choked by the debris of cheap Plaster of Paris and Anjaneyulu is quick to point out the cost factor involved in making clay articles. “We form the lowest strata of society and are most neglected community. In the event of losses, the Government waives loans to farmers but we neither get loans, nor are our losses taken care of,” bemoans Anjaneyulu.

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