Though Ganesh Chaturti is two months away, the preparations have already begun and sculptors in the city are at their tables, chisels in hand.
A family of potters, who have been moulding clay for generations, works from 6 am to midnight everyday.
The four brothers Manjunath, Muniraju, Srinivas and Venkataramana have been making and selling pottery from their childhood. About 22 years ago, they shifted to Bengaluru from their village near Nandi Hills along with their parents to start a new life. They bought a piece of land to build a small house in Kumaraswamy Layout. They experienced many highs and lows in their business before finding a good market for their pots and earthen lamps. Then machine-made lamps and pots flooded the market, and the brothers were edged out.
Six years ago, they stopped making lamps and instead started buying them from wholesalers and selling the lamps for a thin margin of profit. Gradually, they moved to making eco-friendly Ganesh and Gowri idols to survive. The family says that they find good business only during the festivals and somehow manage to save about `5,000 to `10,000 for their future.
They bring clay from Hoskote, and it costs them `7,500. Preparing clay for the idols is a long process. They fill the clay into Plaster of Paris moulds and, once they are patted out, apply a finishing coat and leave them out to dry for 15 to 30 days.
Muniraju says that for the last three years they have been facing fierce competition from the potters from Rajasthan, Kolkata, Maharashtra and Kolhapur. They now focus on people who need idols to celebrate the festival at home and hence, they do not make huge idols anymore.
The idol costs ranges from `50 to `500. All four families shifted to a rented house in the same locality and they have coverted their own house into their workplace now. Their wives and children also provide help them in their work.