“A few feet of cakey mud covers the clay found in the Aranmula Puncha that is used to make the Aranmula Kannadi. For us to even get back to making the metal mirrors, the mud from the Puncha will have to be removed to access the clay to make the moulds. Even then, we will have to see if the mould breaks before we can start working,” says K.P. Asokan, president, Viswabrahmana Aranmula Metal Mirror Nirman Society.
This is just one of the problems that Asokan and other artisans who craft the Aranmula Kannadi (metal mirrors) face in the aftermath of the deluge that ravaged Aranmula and other parts of the State.
Sudhammal J, vice-president of the society and one of the two women entrepreneurs who make the mirrors, says houses and workshops of the artisans have been destroyed.
“Our tools, moulds, finished stocks kept ready for Onam sales, everything has been washed away.”
All 25 metal mirror units in Aranmula, 22 of them under the society, have been affected by the floods, Mr. Asokan says.
“It really has been a disaster for Aranmula, especially for Aranmula Kannadi artisans. But for in a couple of wards, all the people were living in camps. There are hundreds of families who, directly or indirectly, depend on the metal mirror industry for their livelihood and are now at a complete loss for what to do.”
The loss, they say, is immense.
“Factor in the effort that goes into making each mirror – the raw material cost, that for employees, our profit. All that cost has been lost. Now, the damaged mirrors will have to be taken apart and recycled.
This is much more laborious and costlier. Even the loss from the packing boxes runs into lakhs.”
It will take at least four to five months before they can start fashioning mirrors and move full steam ahead. “Even after production picks up, it will be some more months before sales pick up, for the people across the State are in dire straits. Buying an Aranmula Kannadi is not going to be their priority,” Mr. Asokan says.
The government, they say, should think about immediate steps to alleviate their woes and get the mirror industry back on track.
“Long-term measures are needed, but so too are short-term measures by the Union and the State governments,” he says.