Greater demand for idols of the elephant-headed god than any other deity

Lord Ganesha scores in popularity over other gods of the Hindu pantheon, if one were to go by the number of idols of the deity sold, say seasoned sculptors. Ammavaru or Grama Devata idols follow, while the demand for Navagraha idols and Hanuman was also growing.

There has been a gradual rise in the demand for Ganesha idols in the last two decades, says Y. Renukachari, who has been into idol carving for the last 25 years. Few temples lacked a Ganesha idol, while more and more homes house stone depictions of the elephant-headed god in the belief that it would ward off evils from errors in construction.

Mr. Renukachari and his brother Vasudevachari, who hail from a village near Atmakur, set up the sculpture house in the city after being trained at Allagadda, which is known for idol-making.

The duo gets orders for idols from Adoni, Yemmiganur, Mahabubnagar district and even from Bellary in Karnataka.

A seated idol takes nearly seven days for the team to complete, while one in the standing posture takes one day less.

Summer is auspicious and demand is at its peak.

In the lean season, orders dwindle to two or three idols a month.

Mr. Renukachari said new-generation cutting tools had come in handy for artisans, who could now complete the work in less time. The finishing was more appealing with machine work.

Rising wages

However, with rising labour wages and skyrocketing prices of granite rock (which is used to make the idol), sculpture has run into tough times, say sculptors.

The rocks are usually sourced from Cheemakurthi, Malyala, Talamanchi Patnam, all in Kadapa district, Chilabanda in Kurnool and Mysore in Karnataka. Black granite is expensive and used for long-lasting idols.