Customers seem to be forsaking an eco-friendly option

Greens may reiterate the message till they’re blue in the face but it looks as if people would sooner reach for a plaster of paris Ganesh than take the trouble to go to Pottery Town here to buy a pristine one made of earth.

Even as the entire city has geared up for Ganesh Chaturthi, artisans of Pottery Town are an anxious lot. While vendors selling plaster of paris idols find their stock disappearing fast, those with pure clay Ganeshs find they have no takers.

Business is bad

Lakshmi (name changed), a third-generation potter from the area selling clay Ganeshs, said that most customers have been demanding plaster of paris idols this year. “In the years past, during festival time, I would be so busy I couldn’t even eat my lunch in peace as people would be queuing up for clay idols. But all these days I have been just sitting in front of my godown, hoping that I get at least two or three customers a day. I have been able to sell only eight Ganesh idols this year.”

Most customers are looking for intricate and garish artwork artisans like her are not equipped to design. “Earlier, there were just six of us selling the idols. Today there is so much competition that I have to struggle to sell even one idol. What has made matters worse for us is that the authorities from our area have provided space in the nearby grounds to vendors who are selling plaster of paris Ganeshs. As a result of this, even our regular customers [have defected],” Ms. Lakshmi said.

Bank loan

She had taken a loan of Rs. 2.5 lakh from the bank and with business being bad this year, she is worried about repayment. “Every year we look forward to the Ganesh festival as we live off the money we make during this season. All our plans for the coming year are dependent on this festival. I don’t know how I will manage to meet my requirements for the coming year.”

Sreedhar, a vendor, said: “Customers want attractive-looking Ganeshs. Although mud Ganeshs are cheaper than plaster of paris, people don’t mind paying extra. After all, the festival comes only once every year.”

Better money

Fellow vendor Kavita N. has a large number of mud Ganeshs, but she said only a few seek them out. Besides, she said, making plaster of paris idols is easier. “If I have to bring mud and clay, I have to go all the way to Malur. Plaster of paris Ganeshs are easier to make and help us make more money.”

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