KALAHANDI: Stories of people's migration from Odisha for employment are quite common among us, but the story Arun Maharana, a wood handicraft artist from a small village in Kalahandi district, is bucking this trend.
He not only has earned a name for himself but has also provided employment to many youths by training them across the state.
Following the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Arun makes versatile wood idols with his hands without using any machine.
The art has become the source of livelihood for thousands of people in the nearby villages.
His art gained immense popularity pan-India when his idols were gifted to former US President Barack Obama by the Indian government.
Since then, Maharana has not looked back. He sends his wood idols to places as far as Chennai, Kolkata, and Goa. Demand for his idols abroad is a new first for this Orissa-based artist.
His work fetches him as high as Rs 50,000 for an idol. "One big idol which gets sold in the range of Rs 8,000 to Rs 50,000 takes a week's time. In a month's time, I make 15 big and around 200 small idols," said Maharana.