No demand for large Ganesha idols this year

No demand for large Ganesha idols this year

Shops are selling, in small numbers, idols smaller than three feet in height

Ganesha idols on sale in Malleswaram. Shopkeepers in the city expect poor sales because of the looming threat of the third wave of Covid-19. DH Photo by B H Shivakumar

With the government dithering on allowing large gatherings, makers of Gowri and Ganesha idols say they are in for a gloomy festival season.

With Ganesh Chaturthi 10 days away, they fear a repeat of last year, when orders were hard to come by.

“Usually, we start getting bookings from shopkeepers one to two months in advance. We have barely any bookings this year,” says Kiran Balu, owner, Manjunatha Ganesha and Gowri Idol Works, Pottery Town. He told Metrolife he had seen a 75% drop in business over the last two years.  Amar Narayanswamy, owner of Sri Vinayaka Enterprises, R V Road, has received 10 orders till now, as against the  500 he would usually get ahead of the festival before the pandemic broke out.

“Forget profits, we can’t even cover our operating costs. I’ve had to take several loans to pay workers working with my family for generations. Their livelihood completely depends on this,” he says. 

If the idols remain unsold, the artisans have no option but to destroy them, he says. “Once painted these idols can’t be remodelled, and preserving them till next year is not an option as it requires more money and labour to keep the idols intact,” he says.

Sai Charan, owner of Tree Vinayaka, Hoodi, also shares the same fear. “We will either have to destroy unsold idols or give them away to various organisations,” he says.

Shops in Malleswaram, Gandhi Bazaar and other parts of the city expect poor sales. “People are stressed about the third wave of Covid-19. Also, many families lost their kin to the pandemic this year, so they won’t be celebrating this year,” a shop owner in Malleswaram told Metrolife.

H M Nagaraj, who sells idols in Banashankari, says he has received no enquiries for bigger idols this year.

Bigger idols are typically bought by those organising public events. “Customers only want idols that are three feet tall or shorter. I’m only getting smaller idols made,” he says.

Idol manufacturers have also noticed a similar trend. “Before Covid, almost 60% of the demand was for idols taller than five feet, but now we have had to switch to smaller idols. As home-visarjan is the only option now, these are the only kind of idols that people can buy,” says Kiran.

Online Ganeshas

Madhavi Abhijeet Jadhav, proprietor of Atharv, an eco-friendly idol manufacturing company, sees hope online. “We started our online store recently, and after facing severe losses last year. We have realised this is the way forward. Business has definitely improved this year,” she says. She says she has received about 400 orders so far, or about 80% of her pre-pandemic sales.

However, shop owner Sai Charan has noticed a drop in online sales this year. “We’re barely getting one or two orders. Many of our usual customers say they are keeping the celebrations lowkey,” he says.

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