CHICKPET:All roads lead to Avenue Road this week, especially for women shopping for the Varamahalakshmi festival on Friday.
They are buying decorated Lakshmi idols, for worship on a festival that honours the goddess of good fortune.
The earlier custom was to worship a consecrated coconut placed in a cupola (kalasha) with mango leaves, a silver mask of the goddess tied around the neck, but conventions are changing.
Varalakshmi idols decorated with imitation jewellery are now a major attraction. About 20 imitation jewellery shops on Avenue Road sell the decorative idols in various sizes, priced between Rs 600 and 3,500.
The jewellery imitates traditional ruby-and-gold inlay work, and does not use expensive silver and gold.
On sale is a range of designs: crowns, ear rings, bindis, and nose rings made of brass. They look intricate and expensive, but are way cheaper than gold.
Nagaraj, busy with customers at Shree Sharadha Fashion Jewellery, said, “Back then only Vaishyas and Brahmins used to celebrate Varamahalakshmi habba, but today almost all Hindus are doing it. Everyone wants Lakshmi to come home!”
The practice of buying decorative idols was ushered in seven or eight years ago.
R Subramaniam, who runs Sreema Gold Covering Jewellers, says it takes three months to prepare the traditional cotton Lakshmi idols. “The jewellery that adorns the goddess is manufactured at Machilipatnam. Many prefer imitation jewellery because it glitters and looks attractive,” he told City Express.
Each shop sells about 200 to 300 masks in a day, and 150 idols of various sizes.
VSR Pramod is a third generation trader selling imitation jewellery at New Seema Creations. “Readymade Lakshmi idols were not a hit during my grandfather’s days. Today, everything caters to the modern generation.”
His family hails from Machilipatnam. Previously, such decorative items were only offered to idols in temples, as he remembers. “Today they make moulds in all sizes. Our employees start preparations two months before the festival,” he said.
The work begins just after the month of Aashada. Some buy only the body and face with no jewellery, and decorate the idol with gold jewellery.
Middle class people go in for imitation jewellery. “There are faces coloured with yellow and red, representing the auspcious turmeric and vermilion,” he said.