Time for some brisk business

Idol Makers

Time for some brisk business

Go to any of the older parts of the City and you’ll immediately know the festive season is just around the corner; while the City gets set for the upcoming Gowri-Ganesha festival, the idol-makers in these areas are equally engrossed in their own preparations.

Be it Pottery Town, Yeddyur Lake, RV Road or even the bylanes of Malleswaram, one can find idol-makers and sellers, who are busy giving the finishing touches to their idols and covering them up with plastic to protect them from dust and rain. Many of their shops are stacked with idols of difference sizes. Mavalli, on RV Road, has creative ‘Ganesha’ on display every year.

   This year, there is a Rajasthani-style ‘Ganesha’; another stall has the idol with chief minister Siddaramaiah and other idols showing the Annabhagya scheme.

Idol-makers come from across the country to sell their products and showcase their art form. Families and associations who celebrate the festival book these idols months in advance and that’s what encourages these artistes to dedicate themselves to the art form.

“It’s an art form that was passed on to us from the elders in the family. On the day ashada ends, we do a small puja in our workshop and start the process of making the idol,” says Prabhakar, an idol-maker from Malleswaram.

Many of the artists say that the demand in the City is huge and they come three months before the festival and stay back till Dasara.

   “We bring our own clay, which is made out of the mud from the river Ganga,” says Pankaj, a potter from Varanasi, who is currently in Pottery Town.

Though many of them make the idols using either hay, ‘papier-mache’, Plaster of Paris or clay, there are others who source the idols from Maharashtra, mainly Mumbai and Pune. Kolar is another popular place from where idols are brought.

Says Lakshamma, who has been selling Gowri-Ganesha idols for the last 30 years near Yeddyur Lake, “It’s a huge business getting these idols. Bangalore has very few artisans who make idols as the resources are few. That’s why we source the really big ones from places like Maharashtra and Kolar.”

On an average, most of them invest close to Rs five lakh on these idols. Lakshamma notes that last year, they sustained a loss of close to Rs three lakh. “But this year, I am more positive as we have already got a lot of orders,” she adds. 

Most of them depend on their regular customers, who buy idols every year for their homes or their areas. The effort that goes into making an idol is a lot. Not only do they make them from scratch, but they also have to paint them to perfection. With practice, they say, they can make close to 70 idols a week.

 “We also make sure that all the items used to make these idols are easily dissolved in water because a lot of customers want idols that dissolve easily,” says Shivannanda, another idol-maker. Though some of the stalls have already started displaying the idols, the orders will increase as the festival closes in. The prices of the idols will also increase. Starting from Rs 150, the price of the idols can go up to Rs 40,000 to Rs two lakh as well. “It all depends on the height and the kind of work that has gone into it,” says A Venkatesh, another idol-sellers at Yeddyur.

But not all the idols get sold. Many a time, these idols are left unsold for a month. “A few of the artisans take back the idols and use them for something else. But that’s not the case all the time. It is very difficult to maintain them. At times, we just repaint them and wait until next year,” explains Venkatesh.

With most of them being positive about the sales of the idols this year, looks like
these artisans are looking forward to a prosperous Gowri-Ganesha.

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