Odisha Idol Makers Face Huge Losses During Festival Season

Bhubaneswar: The festive season is round the corner, but idol makers are hardly excited this year as they are staring at huge losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In normal years, they get busy during this time as they receive orders to make earthen idols for different festivals. Now, in this situation, they have very little work.

“Making idols are both our passion and profession. That is the only source of income for us. Making idols is hard work, so all our family members contribute. This pandemic has ruined everything,” said Prayas Kumar Barala, an idol maker from Old Town here.

“We do not have any fixed income. During the Ganesh Puja period, we used to earn about Rs 50,000. But this year, we have not received a single rupee,” he rued.

Another idol maker Chandan Behera, from Shilpi Kumbhra Sahi in Cuttack, was unhappy with the state government’s decision of not allowing Ganesh puja.

“We’ve never faced this kind of a situation. Even during the devastating cyclone Fani, we didn’t experience such losses. For us, the government’s decision not to give permission for Ganesh Puja is wrong,” he said.

“Making idols is our family business. I’ve been doing this work for the last 25 years and my father for 50 years. We used to get more than Rs 1 lakh every year during Ganesh Puja. But this year, we have not received a single order. The government should take some steps for our survival,” he added.

“This is the beginning of the festivals. We cannot predict the situation during Durga Puja, Laxmi Puja, Kartikeswar Puja and Kali Puja. If this situation continues for some more months, we will have to leave our homes,” said Chandan.

He used to go to make idols during Ganesh Puja and Durga Puja in the twin cities.

Athagarh-based potter Nilamani Rana is left in the lurch because he had finished making some Ganesh idols. “We had procured raw materials to make idols and had completed some Ganesh idols also. But we couldn’t sell those idols. This is a big loss for us,” he lamented.

Ganesh Puja is on August 22. But an order has been issued stating that permission will not be given to puja committees in Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and other places to celebrate Ganesh Puja.

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