Coimbatore

Bamboo artist creates 'nativity scenes' for Christmas

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It’s the time of the year when R. Sakthivel and his family create cribs for Nativity scenes in the city

R. Sakthivel sits under the shade of a gulmohar tree on Red Fields Road. He calls this spot his “temporary home for the Christmas season.”

He has his reasons. “I spend most of my time here; probably more than what I spend at my real home in RS Puram. I reach here with my family at 8:00 a.m. and make Christmas cribs till 9:00 p.m.,” he says, as he nails together two wooden strips. Bundles of straw and poles of bamboo are arranged next to him.

“I buy the raw materials from RS Puram. The bamboo should be at least be two years old to be sturdy. But there is no way for me to say if it is infested with pests inside. If it is faulty, I reject it,” he says, pointing to a stack of abandoned bamboo in a corner.

Bamboo artist creates 'nativity scenes' for Christmas
 

Family business

Sakthivel works with great speed and attention as he crafts each piece. Every one in the family has assigned duties. His wife, Kavitha, attends to the customers while his brother Ramesh cuts the bamboo into thin strips and paints them bright pink.

Bamboo artist creates 'nativity scenes' for Christmas
 

His son, Aravindan, is in charge of arranging straw to make the thatched roof. It takes them an hour to make the final structure that looks like a little hut. “This is used to represent the nativity scene. People add figurines of infant Jesus, Mother Mary, her husband Joseph, the three wise men, angels, shepherds and sheep in it. Lights, straw, grass, and pebbles are also used to personalise the cribs. We make 10 pieces in a day and each sells for ₹150,” says the 47-year-old.

Bamboo artist creates 'nativity scenes' for Christmas
 

Sakthivel has worked with bamboo for three decades now.

“My family has been making baskets for three generations. I joined them when I was 12,” he recalls. He started making cribs in 2009; “a friend introduced me to it. I enjoyed the process and have been doing it ever since then. Till two years ago, I sold them in Kottayam and Ernakulam in Kerala. Now I sell them here in Coimbatore,” he says.

The family started preparing for the festive season in October. “We have been working every day since then. Last week we sold 150 pieces to two stores in RS Puram. It is hard work, but it helps save money for my future. I will make cribs till December 23 and go back to making baskets in January,” he says. So will he be celebrating Christmas? “If the sales are good, we will take a week off from work. That will be our celebration,” he smiles.

Bamboo artist creates 'nativity scenes' for Christmas
 

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 8:51:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/setting-the-mood-for-christmas/article30400557.ece

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