COVID-19 Burns A Hole In Income Of Effigy-Makers For Ravana Podi

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Bhubaneswar: The dark shadow of COVID-19 has been all pervasive. Be it small traders or big industries, service-holders or professionals, people from all walks of life have felt its financial blow. And idol-makers are no exception.

The families, who have been into the idol-making business for several years, said they have never gone through such miserable miserable phase before. First, there was lockdown due to COVID-19. Then came restrictions.

As a result, their income has been severely impacted as the customers for their products dwindled drastically. There were restrictions on Ganesh Chaturthi, then on Durga Puja and now on Ravana Podi Utsav.

“We have been doing this business for the last 25 years. We were making effigies of Ravana in Palasuni, Saheed Nagar, Naharakanta, Khordha, Pipili and Old Town etc. We were producing about 10 effigies every year. But this year we don’t have any work,” said Prakash Bhoi, an artisan of Old Town area in the city.

“We used to manage our families the entire year with the income during the festive season. But this year, we do not have any work. I don’t know how to meet our daily needs. Besides, we have two school-going sons,” said Reena Bhoi, wife of Prakash.

“We are a group of 10 people, who used to make effigies of Ravana every year. All are sitting idle now. We don’t have any other source of income,” said Prakash.

Ranjit Kumar Behera, another artisan from Rajsunakhala in Nayagarh district was of the same view. “I have been into this work for the last 26 years. Besides the effigy of Ravana, I was making idols during Ganesh Puja and Durga Puja. I was doing effigies of Ravana in Nayapalli and Damana in Bhubaneswar,” he said.

With Dussehra over, they are looking forward to Kali Puja and Laxmi Puja. “Now I am making some small Laxmi idols. I am not sure whether these idols will be sold or not. We were sitting idle since March,” said Prakash.

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