As the countdown to Durga Puja begins, Ma Durga is facing her biggest challenge from none other than her own son, Ganesh.
Inside the studios on the narrow alleys of Kumartali, artisans are finding it hard to meet the demands for idols on Ganesh Chaturthi — scheduled just a month before Durga is slated to descend to the earth with her family.
"This year suddenly the demand for idols on Ganesh Chaturthi has increased. It is scheduled on September 18. We have to supply idols for Durga Puja latest by October 18. We are finding it hard to cope with the demand," said Pradyut Paul a prominent artist from Kumartuli.
Artisans claimed that for years they would refuse to accept orders for Ganesh Chaturthi. None of the artisans would accept more than two orders each for Ganesh idols.
The reason behind this is that Durga Puja immediately follows Ganesh Chaturthi and since Durga idols are considered the staple income of the artisans they do not like taking any risks.
However, this year the demand is so high that artisans are left with no other option. They said that they had finally succumbed to the pleas and entreaties of the organisers and accepted far more orders for Ganesh Chaturthi than last year.
Organisers too are ready to pay twice the usual rate for a Ganesh idol. Artisans said an idol that they sold for Rs. 2000 to Rs. 3000 last year is now selling for more than Rs. 5000. "We take high interest loans and utilise it as capital for Durga Puja. This year the higher rates for Ganesh idols are providing us good capital. I have accepted five orders for Ganesh Chaturthi," said Paul.
Artisans said that the Ganesh idols displayed as part of the Durga Puja ensemble are generally different from the ones used during Ganesh Chaturthi. Since Lord Ganesh is the main focus on the latter, the idols are usually much bigger and more more ornate. Sometimes organisers even demand Ganesh Chaturthi idols based on particular themes.
"For years we have observed that people from Bhowanipore, Burabazar, Alipore and New Alipore celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi and order idols. This year I was stunned to see even Bengali's from Lake Town and Barasat ordering Ganesh idols. It might have become a status symbol," said Pradip Paul, another artisan.