Price hike dampens sale of eco-friendly Ganesha idols in Coimbatore

Published - August 30, 2022 11:02 pm IST - COIMBATORE

Ganesha idols lined up for sale at the Flower Market in Coimbatore on Tuesday.

Ganesha idols lined up for sale at the Flower Market in Coimbatore on Tuesday. | Photo Credit: PERIASAMY M

Sale of Ganesha idols did not return to pre-pandemic levels, say traders and manufacturers in Coimbatore, on the eve of Vinayaka Chathurthi.

After two years of lockdown owing to COVID-19, the idol sellers in the district expected an uptick in sales for August 31. 

V. Latha (39), who runs a general store at Palladam in Tiruppur district, said that she bought around 500 idols on Friday— ranging from six inches to four feet tall — but sold only 250 to 300 idols till Tuesday evening. 

S. Ashok (44), who runs a shop dealing with clay articles at Flower Market in the city, said that he sold about 500 idols last year. This year, as on Monday evening, only around 180 were sold. He said customers’ interests had dampened due to increase in rates. “Last year a five-inch tall idol was sold at ₹80, this year it costs ₹100. Overall, many traders have hiked the prices by 40%.” he said.

The sale of banned Plaster of Paris (PoP) idols for cheap rates is pulling down the market for the clay and papier mache idols. “We also have the risk of rain damaging eco-friendly idols. But customers bargain unreasonably comparing it with PoP rates and many of us lose our 20% profit margin.”

Several idol makers have halved production this year across the State, said S. Saravana Kumar (53), who runs an idol manufacturing unit at Selvapuram in the city. “Raw material cost — wooden planks, cornerstones, even glue — and labour charges increased by 20%, which led to the hike in idol prices. Fares for autorickshaws, for transporting the items and idols, which were ₹200 last year, are now ₹800,” he said.

Normally, we would make 600 to 700 idols, but this year we made only 250. Anticipating a lockdown, we reduced production, Mr. Kumar added.

Idols ranging from 5 feet to 12 feet tall, mostly made of papier mache, sold out faster this year, Mr. Ashok, a seller, said.

Echoing the same, Mr. Kumar said there was high demand from corporations, associations and individuals for idols that are 12 feet to 15 feet tall.” More than 50 idols over 10 feet tall were sold in my shop till Tuesday, he added.

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