Idol Makers Watch Financial Distress For A Second Year

As the government orders a ban on large-scale gatherings ahead of Gowri-Ganesha festivals, idol makers are facing financial hardship for the second consecutive year. Before the pandemic, shopkeepers in the busy lanes of Malleswaram and other parts of the city would have already stocked up on idols of various hues and taken orders and leads from customers. But with fears of a third wave and a government ban on cultural gatherings, traders have not bought Ganesha or Gowri idols so far, despite Ganesh Chaturthi being less than 20 days away. .

VB Babu, whose family has been selling idols for 40 years, said that a month before the festival, at least 500 idols would be pre-booked. “This year, I haven’t placed any withdrawals for idols yet. I will have idols under 3 feet tall only next week,” he said.

Another vendor, K. Shankar, said the festival celebrations would likely be low-key given the restrictions put in place by the state government. “Many families have lost loved ones to COVID-19 this year and may choose not to celebrate the festival,” he said, adding that he still had leftovers from last year.

While these idol sellers see business at least twice a year during the Ganesha and Navaratri festivals, for many idol makers the Ganesha and Gowri festival is the only time they make a profit. However, major idol makers on RV Road claimed that almost 40 lakh worth idols remained unsold since last year.

DL Suresh, an idol maker who also has a shop in Gandhi Bazaar, claimed there had been a nearly 75% drop in business over the past two years. “After the pandemic hit last year, we were pushed to the brink of financial distress. Our financial situation has only gotten worse this year,” he said.

Mr. Thirthagiri, owner of Sri Vinayaka Enterprises, said The Hindu this idol pre-booking was almost zero this year. “We are making changes to last year’s unsold idols in hopes that at least this year we can clear the stock,” he said.

Mahesh R., a craftsman who only made idols before, has now branched out. In his rented workshop on MVIT–Thimmasandra Road, near Devanahalli, he makes kitchen utensils, water jugs and other novelty items. “After the first lockdown, the government announced loan repayment relief. During the second confinement, no such measure was announced. In the absence of sales, we had to make loan repayments. It was even difficult to pay the rent,” he said.

Sarah J. Greer