The nimble hands work patiently on the sharp contours of the face. Very soon, it will take the shape of the benign looking goddess Durga over 10 feet in height astride a ferocious lion and slaying the Mahishasura. As Durga Puja or Dasara comes nearer, artistes from West Bengal work round-the-clock making idols for the festival. For almost five months now, Sudhir has been busy finishing the orders for Durga idols.
He came to Vizag, along with his troupe, in June this year. And since then, they have been working round the clock preparing more than 40 idols for the festival. And with the festival almost here, the pace of work has increased. Peep into his makeshift tent at Kancharpalem and you will find several figures of Goddess Durga awaiting the final strokes of his brush.
“The demand for artists from Calcutta is high here and since the competition is tough there, we prefer to come to Vizag every year,” says Sudhir.
He is, however, not the only one practicing this trade here. Sukumar Pal and his team from Kharagpur have been giving him competition. What’s unique about their creations is that the idols are eco-friendly. Draped in moulds of clay, especially brought from the banks of the Ganges, the idols are eye-catching and are made in distinctive artistic designs.
But even as the city revels in the festive exuberance, artistes don’t seem to be too hopeful of a good business this year. Raising overheads, diminishing profits and recurring losses – all put up a gloomy scenario before them. “Right from the jute ropes used in creating the base of the idols to the paints have become costly.
We bought the jute materials for Rs.35 per kg last year and now it costs Rs.55 per kg. The paints that are specially brought from Kolkata too have become dearer,” says Sukumar who has scaled down his creations to almost half of what they made last year.
“And though the making cost of idols has shot up, most associations insist on purchasing the idols in the same rates as last year,” he rues.