Ahead of Dussehra, pandemic shadows effigy business in Ludhiana
An effigy maker said he had received 15 orders from Ludhiana in 2019, but onlythree this yearUpdated: Oct 17, 2020, 22:29 IST
Even as the government has allowed Ravana Dehan to be held this year and some Dussehra committees have stepped forward to organise them, the ongoing pandemic has taken a toll on the business of effigy makers.
Due to dip in orders and reduced size of effigies, it is difficult to even meet costs, said Asgar Ali, 48, a resident of Agra, who has been making effigies at the Daresi ground for over three decades now.
Ali said that they have received 15 orders from Ludhiana last year, but this time, only three Dussehra committees have come forward.
Ali and his team reached the city late on Thursday evening and are currently working at Daresi ground. The effigy makers said that they are working just to retain customers and are making no profit.
Ali added that organisers are not getting effigies of other mythological figures including Megnadh and Kumbhakaran built this year, as Ravana Dehan will be a low-key event.
Ali’s son, Sohail Khan, 19, said the number of labourers deployed in the process has also been reduced from 30 to eight this year. Earlier, they only used to supervise the labourers, but now, they are preparing the effigies themselves to reduce costs.
“We used to bring along a team of around 30 labourers and different teams used to work at separate locations in the city. We used to get around 15 orders from Ludhiana and also from Chandigarh. But this year, we have received no order from Chandigarh while only three committees have placed orders in Ludhiana - Daresi, Upkar Nagar and Dhandra Road,” said Khan.
A student, Khan said that his two elder brothers also used to assist them in the previous years. But this time, they have opted to stay back in Agra as the demand is so low.
“Earlier, we used to get orders from Haryana and Rajasthan as well, but this year, we have only received few orders from Haryana,” said Sohail.
“This year, we are only working to retain the customers, as they will replace us with local artistes and prefer them in the coming years also,” he added.