BHOPAL (Madhya Pradesh): The administration and the government are yet to come out with the guidelines on the upcoming Durga Puja. However, the idol-makers in the city have already prepared idols of the goddess Durga. The idols, however, are shorter in height than the normal.
The idol-makers say that they can't afford to wait for the guidelines because they are issued just a few days before the beginning of the festival. They also say that the demand for the idols has dipped and the cost of the raw materials has gone up. The buyers are not ready to pay higher prices and are bargaining hard. All this has reduced their earnings. The 10-day Durga Puja festival begins from October 7.
An idol maker Anup Dey, says that they begin making the idols in January-February. 'Now, we are giving the finishing touches to them. There is no way we could have waited for the guidelines before starting our work,' he says.
Dey has summoned around 15 artistes from Kolkata. He started accepting bookings from July 26 and has received around 100 orders from Astha, Sehore, Vidisha, Hoshangabad and Mandideep, besides Bhopal. He has made idols of 3-12 feet height. Dey says that the prices of idols have gone up by around 10-15%.
Another idol maker Ajay Prajapati has received only a few orders. Customers are not coming, he complains. The maximum height of idols made by him is 10 feet. 'We had met the officials of local administration before the Ganesh Utsav and they had asked us to go ahead with preparations for the Durga Festival,' he says. Prajapati says that he has received orders from Kurwai, Bina and Ganj Basoda. Unlike earlier, Prajapati has not called artistes from Bengal this time.
Idol maker Sujeet Yadav has received 55 orders to date, down from the usual 100-125. Earlier, most of the customers ordered idols of 20-25 feet height but now 8-12 feet idols are in greater demand, he says.
'Logon ke paas paisa hee nahi hai (People are short of money),' he says. According to Yadav, the price of the raw materials used for making idols has increased a lot. 'A truck of soil from Kolkata, which used to cost Rs 65,000 now priced at Rs 1.40 lakhs and the price of 'sutli' has gone from Rs 90 to Rs 170 per kg,' he says.
Yadav says that earlier he used to make idols of up to 25 feet height but now all his idols are in the range of 8-10 feet.
Idol maker Rajkumar Prajapati says that idol-making is the only work they do. 'This year, Jhulelal Jayanti (Cheti Chand) was not celebrated and matki-phod contests were not held on Janmashtami. And now, Durga Utsav is also likely to be a dull affair. We are in great difficulties,' he says.
Raju Kushwaha says that the talk of a Third Wave of Covid has ruined their business. 'I have received just 30 orders for idols of 8-10 feet height,' he says.