TIRUPATI: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, almost 70 per cent of artisans of Bommala Colony engaged in making idols, have diversified. They are now working as construction workers, agricultural labourers and daily wagers for survival.
Around 250 artisan families are engaged in making Ganesh idols in the colony. They used to earn an annual income of Rs 2.5 lakh per family. But the situation has changed following the outbreak of Covid-19. “We received no orders for Ganesh idols for Vinayaka Chavithi due to Covid-19 curbs,” said K Vasudha, an artisan.
Earlier, each member of an artisan’s family used to earn between Rs 400 and Rs 600 a day during the festival season by making idols. Normally, the artisan families used to get orders for around 80,000 to 90,000 Ganesh idols every year for the festival. “We have been engaged in this profession for the last three decades,” she said.
About 70 artisans and their families in the colony, are eking out a living by making colour chalk pieces used for rangoli. Some families have returned to their native villages as they could not find work in the temple town.
“We used to earn an income of Rs 1 crore to Rs 1.5 crore by selling idols of gods and goddesses to customers from the State and neighbouring Tamil Nadu. Majority of the festival committees in Chittoor district and border villages of Tamil Nadu visit Bommala Colony to place orders for Ganesh idols,” said TP Babu, owner of an idol making unit.
“We never faced such a bleak situation in the colony’s history. We are forced to do menial jobs for livelihood. Earlier, we used to pay Rs 400 to each worker for making idols in the unit, now we are getting the same amount as workers. We have suffered a loss of Rs 75 lakh this year,” lamented KS Kumar, owner of another idol making unit.
Normally, the artisans start making Ganesh idols after Sankranti. “Now, we are borrowing money from private financiers for working capital to make idols next year. We have preserved the unused raw material for Vinayaka Chavithi next year. The lockdown has dealt a death blow to our profession,” Kumar said.
However, he is optimistic of business revival by Vinayaka Chavithi next year.