It’s a gloomy Puja for Bankura’s idol makers

Art & Culture COVID-19

Bankura: Fewer and cheaper orders this year has upset Durga idol makers of Bankura. Due to the pandemic, almost all Puja committees have demanded smaller idols in order to cut their budgets.

Artisans of many villages of Bankura district wait throughout the year for Durga Puja as idol-making contributes in a big way to their annual income.  They receive plenty of orders demanding various sorts of Durga idols – thematic, orthodox, big and small. But this year, all clubs and Puja committees have organised Durga Puja in a simple manner to cope with the deficit of their funds.

 “Usually, I get at least 8-10 orders in a normal year which give me Rs 80,000 to Rs 1 lakh, but this year I made only five idols and earned less than Rs 50,000” said Ramkrishna Mandal, an artisan from the Indpur block. Though he got five orders, all of them were for small idols, so the prices were less than those last year, he added.

Prashanta Pal, who runs a house of idol makers called Shilpa Kendra, said: “Our full strength is 13, but only eight people worked this year. We did not call the rest as we received 40 per cent less orders than the last year.   Some of my regular customers, who use to take idols of Rs 30,000, requested me to make idols worth  Rs 6,000.”

Veteran idol maker Shukdeb Pal, who is famous for making theme idols, said: “Last year, I made six thematic idols, but this year all clubs refused to order thematic idols. All of them asked for orthodox ekchala (chala is the structure of an idol, made of bamboo and  canvas, that works as the background) idols.” Last year he made a thematic idol for Agami Din club for which he got Rs 50,000, but this year they asked for a Rs 15,000 idol.

An artisan is busy with colours, as a boy watches by. | Abhisek Dutta

Arabinda Acharya, a member of the Agami Din club working committee, said: “Last year we had the theme of ‘Save Water, Save Earth’ where Mahishashura was asking for water from Maa Durga dropping down the armaments. But this year we have shifted to an orthodox form of Maa Durga.” 

Chinmay Patra, secretary of Nabarun Sangha Puja committee, said: “First, we thought not to organise Puja this year. Finally, it is happening but obviously in a simpler way. We have wrapped up the idol part within Rs 12,000.” 

Chitta Pal, who runs a shop of daak (crowns, ornaments and other products to decorate idols), said: “Our major demands   were for smaller idols. I brought three daaks for bigger idols, but all of them are unsold.”

Shukdeb Pal said he earned Rs 3 lakh last year, but this year he faced a loss of at least Rs 1.5 lakh, while Ramkrishna Mandal suffered a loss of Rs 50,000.

But another artisan, Hiralal Pal, said: “I make idols mainly for family pujas. They can’t skip the puja so there is no big change in my earning this year.”

A group of artisans of Brahmandiha village in Bankura are hoping that the situation will improve by Saraswati Puja in February.


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