AURANGABAD: Band artists, who did not get any orders this summer due to restrictions on weddings in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, are now hopeful of revival of their business during the culmination of the Ganesh festival on Tuesday.
After the lockdown came into force in March, many band artists in Maharashtra's Aurangabad and Nanded districts had to leave their profession as they did not get any bookings for playing instruments since people cancelled or postponed wedding ceremonies in the last few months.
But, they are now expecting some bookings during the immersion of idols, marking the conclusion of the 10-day Ganesh festival, on 'Anant Chaturdashi'.
"Marriages generally take place every year between March and May, and between November (after Diwali) and January. This year half of our season went with almost zero earnings as weddings were cancelled due to lockdown," Aurangabad-based brass band player Nisar Qureshi told PTI.
"Though big processions are not permitted on the last day of immersion of Ganesh idols, we still expect some orders for playing music," said Qureshi, whose four generations were in the same profession.
He said the current situation came as a shock to him as he never experienced such a crisis in his life.
"I have nearly 20 people dependent on my business and everyone has a family. Of late, we have had no practice sessions as nobody is calling us to play the band. Many of my team members are now working as farm or construction labourers, while some are selling vegetables," he said.
Another band artist Ashok More said every year they even used to get orders from other cities, but this time not a single order has come their way.
"There are nearly 50 brass band teams in Aurangabad and about 10 of them have decided to leave this profession due to their debts. The government should help us," he said.
More said the education of their children has also been affected as they cannot afford smartphones for every child at home for their online classes.
"There are numerous issues now," he rued.
More said they are planning to hold an agitation on Wednesday to make the government aware about their problems.
Shankar Jogdand, a band artist from neighbouring Nanded, said his shop is locked since the last six months but he is still paying its rent of Rs 2,000 and electricity bill of Rs 400 every month.
"My 20 team members are finding it difficult to survive. Every one is looking for some other way of earning their livelihood. Many of them have chosen to work in farms. We never thought of any other work earlier," he said.