Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): The idol makers in the city are in a dilemma. They are waiting for the government guidelines on the 10-day Ganesh Utsav, which begins from September 10.
The artisans don’t know whether the government will allow public celebrations of the festival and if yes, whether there will be any restrictions on the height of the idols.
Last year, the government had banned setting up of pandals at public places during the Ganesh Utsav, leading to huge losses to the idol makers. They say that they will again suffer losses if the government issues guidelines at the last moment.
The government of Maharashtra has recently issued an advisory on the Ganesh Utsav. The government has fixed the height of idols to be installed at homes at 2 feet. Idols at public places can be of up to 4 feet height. The Madhya Pradesh government, however, is yet to issue any guidelines.
Idol maker Ajay Prajapati told Free Press that the entire stock of Ganesh idols built by them last year was still lying unsold. “I myself have around 60-70 unsold idols. Their heights range from 2 to 10 feet,” he says.
Ajay says that the guidelines should be issued at the earliest. “It takes about 100 days to make the idols. Now there are barely 60 days to go for the festival. How will we make new idols now?” he asks.
Anup Dey, another idol maker, says that an 18-member team of artistes from Kolkata will be reaching the city on July 20. “But they would not be able to start their work unless the government makes its intentions clear,” he says.
Dey says that he has an unsold stock of around 450 idols, including 180 of Ganesh. “I have idols ranging from three to eight feet. There are four-five idols of 10-12 feet, too,” he says.
According to Dey, the delay in issuance of the guidelines was costing them dear. “When the Maharashtra Government can make things clear in advance, why can’t the Madhya Pradesh government do the same,” he asks.
He says that no protests are being made on the issue. “These are bad times for artists like us,” he says. Dey also complains that the BHEL management is not issuing permission to idol makers to set up their units.
Another idol maker, Devendra Prajapati, says that he, too, has old stocks. In fact, all Prajapati families have 60-80 unsold idols. So, there is no point in making new ones, he says.
“During the recent lockdown, when we were free, we made some small idols,” he says. According to him, normally they begin making idols after Holi. He says that the government and the administration are playing “a cruel joke on us”.
“Our idols are not getting sold. The government is not offering us any alternative employment nor is it ready to pay any compensation to us,” he says.
He informed that the idol makers of the Prajapati community held a meeting on Sunday and decided to submit memorandums to the district collector and the chief minister, seeking clarity on the issue.
Rajkumar Prajapati says that he hasn’t started making new Ganesh idols as he has enough in stock. “We are waiting for the government guidelines,” he said.
He said that despite their best efforts, some idols have got damaged. They will have to repair them and give them a fresh coat of paint, Prajapati says.
Prajapati community to submit memorandums to district collector and the chief minister seeking clarity on Ganesh Utsav guidelines.