Durga Puja 2021: Artisans toggle between despair, divinity
New Delhi Come autumn and the Capital gets immersed in the hues of Navratri and Durga Puja. But amid Covid-19 restrictions, grand festivities will once again take a backseat, with many Pujo committees going for digital celebrations. And this has brought with it a challenge for Durga idol makers, who come from West Bengal specifically for this season.
Idol size goes down!
Govind Nath, a senior artisan who makes idols in CR Park’s Kali Mandir, rues, “Till 2019, there used to be 50-60 orders for idols scaling up to as high as 20-22 feet. In 2020, there were about 10 orders for much smaller idols; it is the same this year. We are creating idols no more than four to six feet high.”
Costly raw material
“The cost of raw material has almost doubled, since many come directly from Kolkata. If we buy something for ₹50, we spend ₹100 for its transportation,” says a disappointed Nath.
In Chandralok, another popular location in CR Park where idol makers huddle, a distressed Manik Pal mixes painting dyes that he says have doubled in cost: “Paint that used to cost ₹400 sells for ₹600 now. Grass, which is bound together to make the structure of the idol, has doubled from ₹10,000 to ₹20,000.”
Artisans forced to sell cheaper!
While the price of raw material has increased, selling price of idols has come down. “An idol which used to be sold between ₹30,000 to 40,000 only fetches ₹15,000 now, but cost of living and working is the same. The situation is quite bleak,” admits Pal.
But, dim as the situation may be, the workers are still content about the fact that rituals will be performed, even if subdued. Dhansingh Kumar, selling idols near Gurugram’s MG Road, says: “Despite my wish to make larger-than-life size idols, I’m trying to sell smaller idols to more people at a reasonable rate.”
Miniature idols to the rescue
Innovating with the changing times, some idol makers have created miniature idols for households. “I have made miniature Durgas now and I have successfully sold many of them. The benefit of shifting to miniature idols is a larger profit base and lesser use of raw materials,” says Shanti Devi, an idol maker from Gurugram.
Inputs from Aprajita Sharad
Author tweets @siddhijainn