Madurai

Ganesha idols wait for non-existent customers

Madurai

Vinayaka

Chathurthi is just three weeks away but there are no takers for Ganesha idols.

Doll makers say they have borrowed heavily for making idols for Vinayaka Chathurthi - one of the big festivals which fetches them decent earnings. With the extension of COVID-19 induced lockdown till August 31, they are apprehensive over sale of Ganesha idols.

Meena Kumari belongs to 10 artisan families that reside on 120 Feet Road connecting Mattuthavani with Surveyor Colony. These doll makers, who are natives of Rajasthan, have settled down in Madurai. She says they received orders for making nine-feet-high Ganesha idols for chathurthi processions in January but the orders were cancelled in March in the wake of the pandemic. “We borrowed heavily from money lenders to make the idols. But with no takers for them, we do not know how to repay them,” she says.

Varadha Ram, another artisan, says they have had no income for the past five months. “During the initial days of lockdown, volunteers gave us rice, oil and other essential goods. But now our family members are on the brink of starvation,” he says.

M. Alagarsamy is a doll maker from Vilachery on the southern fringes of Madruai. This village is home to 200 families of artisans. He says their total earnings for the year comes from three main festivals - Vinayaka Chathurthi, Navarathri and Christmas. “The income that we earn between August and November helps us to see through the rest of the year,” he says.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the artisans in Vilachery have not made big Ganesha idols this year. They have made idols measuring up to 1.5 feet in height for customers who buy idols for their homes. “Usually, retailers from nearby districts such as Virudhunagar, Sivaganga, Ramanathapuram and Dindigul buy idols from August. We even get orders from Bengaluru and Mumbai. But, due to restrictions in movement and difficulty in procuring e-pass, we have not received orders till date,” he says.

M. Ramalingam, another artisan, says they are now anxious whether they would sell the idols at all. “Our only hope is, at least street vendors should be permitted to sell our idols during the extended lockdown period,” he says wistfully.

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 3:25:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/ganesha-idols-wait-for-non-existent-customers/article32241877.ece

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