TN convicts show creative side with Vinayakar idols

According to sources, at least five life convicts have been making the idols since August 12 by using clay extracted from the prison campus.
An inmate makes Vinayakar idols at Madurai Central Prison | K K Sundar
An inmate makes Vinayakar idols at Madurai Central Prison | K K Sundar

MADURAI: In a novel initiative that showcases their artistic side, inmates of Madurai Central Prison have started making colourful idols of the ‘Elephant God’ for the Vinayakar Chaturthi festival. The idols, which will be available for sale at two prison bazaars operating on the jail campus from August 30, will also have seeds embedded in them to help promote green cover, senior prison officials said on Saturday.

According to sources, at least five life convicts have been making the idols since August 12 by using clay extracted from the prison campus. They make 30 to 40 idols every day from 8am to 4.30pm and nearly 300 idols are ready, officers said. Prison authorities have planned to sell at least 400 idols through the prison bazaars. Officials said they expect good response from people living in localities close to the prison such as Karimedu and Arasaradi, and depending on feedback, the initiative may be extended to other festivals such as Krishnajayanthi.

Though the selling price has not been fixed so far, officials said the one-foot tall and one-and-a-half-foot tall idol variants would be available 30% to 40% cheaper than market rates.Prison officials had obtained moulds from traditional idol-makers and trained prisoners in making the idols, sources said.

Another official said idol-making sessions were organized as part of rehabilitation programme for prisoners. Prisoners engaged in the process are on the list of pre-release inmates who would be released for their good conduct in the next few months. Prisoners were also being trained in tea/coffee making and other trades to equip them with life skills. “They should not be handicapped by lack of work skills when they step out of jail,” police officials said.

As neem or punnai tree seeds will be embedded in the idols, once people dissolve the idols in water bodies or at their backyard after the festival, the seed covered with cow dung may germinate into a tree, officials said. Only minimum coloring is used in making the idols, they said.

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