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With deft strokes, they turn mundane material into adorable idols

The line-up of idols turns longer during festive occasions such as Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi and Krishna Janmashtami.

punjab Updated: Aug 30, 2018 10:18 IST
Surjit Singh
Surjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
idols,craft,art works
A woman artist painting an idol of Lord Ganesha at a roadside workshop ahead of Ganesh Chaturathi in Amritsar on Tuesday.(HT Photo)

Suresh Kumar, 22, along with his clan, is carrying on his forefathers’ legacy of crafting innovative idols along the old national highway-1 in Amritsar.

Idols of Hindu gods and goddesses being made along the highway outside Bhai Gurdas New Amritsar locality in the city draw the attention of the passersby. Some of them stop their vehicles to see how the artisans make them.

The line-up of idols turns longer during festive occasions such as Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi and Krishna Janmashtami. These occasions are also an opportunity for idol makers to showcase their innovative designs and new artwork.

“These are the occasions when the idols sell like hot cakes,” says Kumar.

He said, “Mainly, peels of coconut, plaster of Paris (PoP), white soil, water colours and wood are used to make these idols. On the wooden frame, the base is created by senior male artisans, while polishing and colouring is done by the women with brushes”.

He says his forefathers who were also idol-makers had shifted to Amritsar from Pali town of Rajasthan about five-six decades ago.

“I took birth here and my father passed away around 15-16 years ago. My entire family, including a brother and two sisters, also make idols,” he said.

Families of Saka Ram, 40, Kumar’s maternal uncle, Baja Ram (uncle) and Ramesh Kumar (uncle) are also partners in this business.

Ram said they make idols of Lord Ganesha, Shankar-Parvati, Lord Krishna, his consort Radha, Hanuman, goddess Lakshmi and Baba Balak Nath of different sizes, ranging from 1-ft to 9-ft height.

The prices of these idols range from Rs 200 to Rs 12,000.

Besides, he said, they also make flowers pots and other kinds of showpieces.

These families start their work in the morning, which lasts till 6 pm. A total of 17 artisans, including seven women, constitute their workforce. Notably, all of them live under the same shed set up to exhibit the idols.

“Earlier, we made the idols on the Tarn Taran road near railway crossing. Around 10 years ago, we shifted our workshop on this highway,” Ram said.

Sangeeta, Kumar’s sister, who was painting beautiful idols of Lord Krishna with a brush, said, “If 10 persons are working together, a single idol of 8-ft height takes a full day to be made, while four to five idols with 1-ft height are made in a day by two-three persons.”

First Published: Aug 30, 2018 10:18 IST