In a week, the city will host the Navratri festival and khadi showrooms in the city have been busy setting up stalls to display artisans’ creations.

The artisans who are busy applying the finishing touches to their works will take a break on the day of Ayudha puja. The following day, they will commence work for the next season.

Artisans say the government’s support and residents’ patronage has seen the doll sales increase over the years. “The production cost has gone up. From hay to cotton to boxes, the prices have all gone up and this reflects on the dolls,” says V. Siva, who runs a unit in Chengalpettu.

A. Sekar of Puduchery has invested Rs. 15 lakh in the business. “Since more people are showing interest in having kolu, there has been a growing demand for different kinds of dolls,” he says.

“A customer from Mylapore wanted me to make theme-based doll sets. I have expanded my sets to include Kannappanayanar, Namakkal Anjaneyar and Tiruchendur linga puja and Nakeera vazhipadu.” His products are on display at Kuralagam, the showroom of khadi and village industries commission, which aims to earn Rs.1.5 crore from doll sales this year. Last year the total sales amounted to Rs. 1 crore.

At Poompuhar, where 18 artisans have exhibited their products, S. Roy’s creations are among those that stand out. The Kolkata-based artisan began his career in Refugee Handicrafts, Kolkata, and has created several scenes from Lord Krishna’s life. He is especially proud of his Dasavatharam set, a traditional must-buy for households that organise kolu.

Though his dolls are a hit with customers, he would like to return home for the puja, he says. “The heavy rains about 15 days ago damaged my dolls and I had to repaint them,” says Mr. Roy, who came to the city three weeks ago.

According to N. Jagadeeswaran, another artisan who is exhibiting his creations at Poompuhar and has invested Rs. 5 lakh this year, the rain causes havoc even for papier mache products. “The dolls become soggy and drying them is a problem,” he says.

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