VELLORE: With the Dussehra festival beginning from Thursday, Fort City that is home to a few families of elderly potters are busy supplying dolls made of clay to Tamil Nadu. These potter-families have been living in the Kosapet area for many years and have been braving the uncertainties inherent in this profession mutely.
Dwindling water sources, restricted availability of mud, invasion of plastics, and the lack of manpower have resulted in the new generation of youngsters migrating to other professions. Neverthless, the elders continue to make dolls during Dussehra, pots during Pongal, lamps during Karthigai festival, Vinayaka idols during Ganesh Chathurthi, besides making small kitchen utensils all through the year. ‘This year, we have received more orders for dolls from Salem, Kovai, Erode, Madurai, Tiruchy, Cuddalore and Chennai’ said Dhandapani, a potter. ‘Some of the orders for dolls were received even during the Vinayaka festival,’ he said.
Some of the potters were also selling their dolls to government-run Khadi Craft and Poompuhar outlets. This year the dolls were made of mud and paper-mache that stand in the range of six inches to two feet tall, costing from `50 to `500. “Paper-mache dolls are little more,” said Senthilkumar, another potter. The potter families, however, were bogged down by the spiraling cost of transportation, he added.
The Dussehra festival is a lean period for hoteliers, lodge-owners and healthcare-service providers in Fort City as during the season the number of tourists plummets by 75 per cent as they celebrate Durga Pooja in their native. ‘This is a lean period for us’ noted Pradhan Jain, who runs an eatery. “There is a lull in business till Diwali and this is the time for us to relax” he added further.