Bhopal: Unlike Ganesha idols, the Bengali artists in the city have been making eco-friendly idols of Goddess Durga for the past 30 years. It is their tradition. They bring soil from Kumartuli in Kolkata every year. However, the idol makers say this year their business is down by 40 per cent due to demonetisation and the GST.
“For the past 30 years, we have been making clay idols of the Goddess. We never use POP. And for this, we brought Ganga soil from Kumartuli. As per Bengali tradition, we mix some soil and water taken from red-light area. And for this, we personally go to Baghbazar, a red light area in Kolkata, seven months before the Durga Puja,” says 56-year-old idol maker and owner of Anup Dey.
Dey, who runs Shushilakala Shilpkala, Saket Nagar, further say “Besides soil, we bring colour, clothes and other decorative items from Krishnanagar, Nadiya district. We started preparation for making the idol since December. And for this we call workers from Hajkali, Kolkata.”
From popular Durga Puja venues like Kalibari TT Nagar, Vijay Market and Mata Madir in Bhopal to distant places like, Jabalpur, Hoshangabad, Asta, Sehore, Ujjain, Bina, Kothibazar, Vididisha and Ashoknagar made by him have been installed at various locations this season.
Dey says about the impact of GST and demonetisation on his business, “It is down 40 per cent due to demonetisation and GST. Every year we used to bring two trucks of soil from Kolkata but this year one truck only due to GST. Total 240 idols of the goddess Durga from 8 ft to 12 ft. were made but this year its number is 180. Our turnover of last year was Rs 30 to 35 lakh in the season while this year it is Rs 20 to 22 lakh,” adding that “due to this reason only, we hired few workers this year. We hired 24 workers last year but only 16 this year. The maximum price of idol is Rs 1.32 lakh which we made for Vijay Market in three parts.”
Regarding his training, Dey says, “Making Durga idols attracted me since childhood. And I took seven years training in idol making from Kutir Shilpi, Kolkata. We came to Bhopal in1984 and started living here with my elder brother who works in BHEL. He is an artist and makes idols. So I started working under him.”
Similarly, 70-old-year idol-maker and owner of Loknath Shilpkala, BHEL, Deepak Ranjan Dey, says, “The market is very sluggish this year. Our sale is down by 30 per cent due to demonetisation and GST. Logon ke paas paisa nahi hai…. So, from where they did purchase idols.”
Deepak who works in BHEL and has been making clay idol for 30 years, says, “The idols, made by us not only installed in the city but other places of the state including Vidiha, Hoshangabad, Budhni and Asta. We prepared 200 clay idols of goddess Durga which size starts from 3.5ft to 9ft. We bought everything including soil, colour, dress and decorative items from Kolkata. Even most of the workers also come from Kolkata. We started making the idol from four months before. We use water colour to paint the idols. The maximum range of idol is Rs 1.20 lakh which we made for 10 No. Market.