VIJAYAWADA: Lord Ganesh, arguably the most popular God in the Hindu pantheon, is considered to be the remover of all hurdles. The denizens of this essentially trading city are never short on reverence to the Lord and as his birthday - the Vinayaka Chaturthi - is just over a month away; preparations for which are underway. Idols of different sizes and hues are already on the sale. However, thanks to the campaign by environmentalists coupled with the skyrocketing investment costs, this year the popular preference may be for smaller ones.
Around 600 artisans from Rajasthan, Tenali and Gujarat are engaged in idol preparation, in the city, along with local craftsmen. Ayodhya Nagar, Krishna Lanka and a location near the Kanaka Durgamma Varadhi are where these idols are made within the city. Usually, the idol height varies from 6 feet to 10 feet and they are made of plaster of paris (PoP), coir and some iron rods procured from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tenali and Palacole.
The prices of raw materials like plaster of paris and coir have increased therefore imposing a burden on the artists who buy them. The cost of a 25 kg plaster of paris bag, which was earlier `250, has increased to `450 and the cost of a 50 kg bag of coir has increased by `250 and is now being sold at `1,000.
“We usually purchase plaster of paris from companies in Rajasthan and Gujarat and coir at Palacole and Tenali. It takes three to four bags of PoP and three to four days to prepare an 8-foot Ganesh idol,” said Shiva, supervisor of the Ganesh idol-preparing unit at Krishnalanka.
“Generally by this time, we prepare 125 idols and we make nearly 160 by the time the festival arrives. But this time around, we have made only 80 due to the price hike,” he added.
The Rajasthani artistes started making small graven images of different sizes to make a fast buck. “As the prices have gone up, we are preparing more number of small idols and reduced the number of huge idols,” said Vidhya, a Rajasthani artist.
“Once the festival concludes, we shall make small decorative dolls and artifacts which we sell at the local market,” she added.
Several families are eking out their livelihood by making idols of Lord Ganesha , with every member of the family engaged in the work. Many of them have to survive with these earnings throughout the year.
“We spend around Rs 3,000 for making any idol of about 7 feet to 10 feet in height and earn about `1,000 on each idol depending upon the demand. But this year, we fear poor returns to our investments,” said Rajeev, an idol-maker from Tenali.
INPUTS DEARER, IDOLS FEWER
Artisans in the city - 600
Price of 25 kg plaster of paris Rs 250 last year, Rs 450 this year.
Price of 50 kg coir Rs 750 last year, Rs 1,000 this year
Usually, 160 idols are made at a unit by this time of the year; this year, the number come down to 80.