Scores of families that have been traditionally in the doll-making trade at Vandiapalayam in Cuddalore are busy packing their products for the upcountry markets that are readying for the Navarathri festivities.
Navarathri is the busiest season that fetches enormous business prospects for them. It is the time for them to realise the returns of a year-long hard work and sustained preparations.
There is no dearth of orders and therefore the families are kept busy throughout the year. During the Vinayaka Chathurthi festivities, single dolls are in demand, whereas for Navarathri, dolls are sold in sets of 10 and in multiples.
According to K. Balu (37), a doll maker, Navarathri has become a sort of common fete as in the case of Deepavali and hence ‘golu’ dolls have come to adorn not only households but also places of public utilities such as banks, hotels and corporate houses.
For the current season he has produced a wide range of dolls, almost 58 sets, in clay and in paper mache. Though focus is mainly on the figurines of gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon, adequate attention is paid to nature too.
For instance, there is a set of dolls depicting a village and its activity, another set signifying agriculture and yet another set portraying a park with all play things. For sport lovers there is a set of dolls with cricketers in action.
Setting up the ‘golu’ stand would certainly involve a fortune: for a set of 10 dolls it would cost Rs. 500 and for arranging five such steps one would have to spend not less than Rs. 5,000.
Moreover, there is a tendency to elaborately decorate the dolls with serial electric lights and garlands on a day-to-day basis. Customers are not just content with keeping last year’s toys but are keen on updating the indents, Mr. Balu said.
Therefore, besides fostering culture, Navarathri is also providing a source of livelihood to many a family.