Braving rains on Monday that played spoilsport during Vinayaka Chathurthi celebrations, a group of Narikurava women from Tiruvannamalai district and neighbouring Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh were seen doing brisk business selling paper umbrellas to decorate Ganesha idols.
While elderly men and women put up stalls near the Fort, youngsters went around the city selling the decorative umbrellas. Stacked on a wooden pole, the umbrellas were priced between Rs 15 and Rs 100 each, depending on the size and decoration.
During Vinayaka Chathurthi, the umbrellas, decorated with beads and other glittering materials, sell like hot cakes. While the male members purchase the raw materials from Chennai, women make the umbrellas and decorate them. Each family had brought goods worth Rs 5,000 and were expecting a profit of Rs 1,000 from the sales. One of the woman of the Narikurava community Jerena from Polur in Tiruvannamalai district said around 75 families living in and around Polur had formed an SHG to make accessories such as bangles, safety pins and bead chains.
“I have been making such accessories for the past 27 years and only now we formed groups,” Jerena noted further. The groups now receive financial aid from the government and banks. However, at times they borrow money from local resources, she added. She said, “While the government had built houses for us, throughout the year we make and sell our products to make a living.”
Another woman, Ragini, added, “Our parents didn’t educate us, but we have educated our children.” She said four boys from their community were studying engineering, while two girls were pursuing a BSc course.
She also said most of the men had stopped consuming alcohol and had become responsible. The group from Chittoor said, “Economically, we have improved, but we are yet to get social recognition.”
Vendors selling clay idols also did brisk business. Fruit, flower and sweet shops saw huge crowds. “It is one day when people don’t bargain, they pay whatever we quote. It is good for us,” said a vendor.