Idol makers stare at financial distress amid Covid pandemic

By Express News Service

CUTTACK: Idol makers living through one of the worst times of their lives due to the Covid pandemic have faced another jolt after the State government capped the height of Durga idols at four feet.With the second wave showing signs of decline and all activities opening up, they had hoped for resumption of their traditional craft, but the restrictions have poured cold water on their yearning for earning their livelihood.

Around 80 artisan families at Shilpi Kumbhar Sahi in the city depend on their hereditary vocation like idol-making. Women and children also pitch in to help their families with idol making and its sale.During the festive season, they make idols of Khudurukuni, Ganesh, Biswakarma, Durga, Gaja Laxmi, Kali and Kartik. However, making idols of Goddess Durga generally fetches a lion share of their annual income.

Prior to the pandemic, artisans in the busy lane would have already stocked up on idols in various hues, and taken orders and advances from customers. But with fears of a third wave and the government’s restrictions on cultural gatherings, artisans have not made adequate number of idols. Ganesh puja and Navaratri festivals are the only time when they make some profit.

“Usually, we earn an income ranging from Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000 for making of a Durga idol depending on its size. Now, the puja committees will pay only Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 for making four-ft idols of Goddess Durga,” said artisan Pramod Kumar Behera.

“The State government has provided financial assistance to different categories of people including street vendors. However, it has turned a blind eye towards our community,” said another idol maker of Shilpi Kumbhar Sahi.

Meanwhile, BJP leaders announced that they would go ahead with the party’s Cuttack bandh programme on Monday demanding the withdrawal of restriction on the Durga idol height.On Saturday, the puja committees had decided to approach the Chief Minister and seek his personal intervention on the matter.

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