AURANGABAD: Ganesh idol makers, whose businesses used to thrive ahead of the annual Ganpati festival in Maharashtra, are facing tough times this year due to restrictions on the height of idols and difficulty in procurement of raw material amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Craftsmen from Aurangabad and neighbouring Jalna say the rise in manufacturing costs due to shortage of raw material coupled with higher transportation expenses have added to their woes.
Ganeshotsav is the most popular festival in Maharashtra.
The pandals set up by various mandals across the state attract thousands of devotees during the 10-day festival, which begins on 'Ganesh Chaturthi'.
This year, 'Ganesh Chaturthi' falls on August 22.
With the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic looming, the state government last month decided to restrict the height of idols installed by Ganpati mandals to only four feet.
Even the Ganesh idols installed at homes cannot be taller than two feet, it said.
"This time, the business is very less. The raw material required for making these idols is brought from Gujarat. This year, the transportation of raw material got hampered and so it affected our work," Ganesh Joble, an idol maker from Begumpura area in Aurangabad, told PTI.
"Many of us work round the year to make big size Ganesh idols. But this year, idols of more than four feet in height cannot be sold which is a loss for us. Now we also need to safely keep these big idols till next year," he rued.
Earlier, idols made in Aurangabad were sent to places like Nizamabad, Hyderabad (Telangana) and Pune (in Maharashtra).
This time the trade is limited to some neighbouring districts, Joble said.
Artisan Manoj Rakhe, from Partur in Jalna, said the coronavirus-induced lockdown adversely affected the availability of raw material and moulds for making idols.
"We made less number of idols this time and also did not make big size idols," he said.
Aurangabad-based trader Prabhakar Ingle, who gets idols from Pen in Raigad district for sale here, had to curtail his business this year due to higher costs of idols and their transportation.
"The costs this time are high as compared to last year. The raw material used for making the idols and their transportation have become costlier this time," he said.