Ganpati leaves sculptors no time for Maa Durga

Sep 16, 2011, 08:06 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

Sculptors say they are experiencing festival fatigue, with demand for idols for Navratri on the rise and workers reluctant to toil right after the busy days of Ganeshotsav

With less than a fortnight to go for Navratri, sculptors in the city complain that they are overwrought.

The festival honouring Goddess Durga comes close on the heels of the one for her son Ganesh, giving the artists and their assistants little time, and lesser energy, to prepare the idols. Moreover, with the demand for Durga sculptures steeping upward by a couple of hundreds this year, the work has become more stressful, many claim.

Stressed out: Vijay Khatu touches up an idol of Godess Ambe at his
workshop in Parel. Pics/Datta Kumbhar

Devotion on a high: Where a 10-foot idol cost Rs 30,000 last year, the
same now sells for Rs 40,000-45,000.

"The workers invest most of their time and energy in making idols for Ganeshotsav, and they are reluctant to work during Navratri, making us sculptors suffer at the end," said an artist who did not want to be named. "All the painting work remains pending until the last days of completing the order."

While last year, some 1,000 to 1,500 idols were ordered, this year the number has now gone up to 1,700. The increased demand from mandals has taken a toll on sculptors.

They have had to double the working hours with just 12 days in hand to meet the requirements of the devotees.

Incidentally, the escalation in demand has enlarged costs as well. Where a 10-feet idol cost Rs 30,000 last year, the same now sells for Rs 40,000-45,000, depending on the quality and design.

Sculptors claim that the artisans at their workshops have dwindled in number, and given the number of orders that they have, their days are packed with work.

Vijay Khatu, a renowned city sculptor, said, "This year I have received about 150 orders, whereas last year, I had 100. But Navratri is a time where the business cannot pick up. Even if we want, we cannot take more orders because we have limited time and resources in hand."

He added, "To complete a handmade idol, I need about five workers to help me. I have 15 orders for these. The others are moulded, wherein the moulds of various idol parts are ready and we just have to assemble them. In that case, we require three workers for an idol, so we can complete 10 idols in a day."

Another sculptor, Vijay Marathe, who has an order of about 50 idols, said, "I have 22 workers during Ganeshotsav for an order of 200 Ganpati idols. The number of workers now is just five. Last year, the number of orders for Durga idols was about 30, with the same number of workers. But this year, the order has increased, making it all the more difficult for us to finish the work in time."

Said a worker at a sculptor's workshop, on the condition of anonymity, "We are stressed after Ganeshotsav and we aren't paid well for the extra effort that we put in for Durga sculptures. That is why we avoid working during Navratri; it takes a toll on our body."

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