GUWAHATI: Worshipping being a year-round practice in Assam as is the case in rest of India, idol making is almost a continuous process as one or the other puja keeps coming. However, there has been a deviation in the course this year. Artisans are simply whiling away their time yawning and stretching as they have no orders even as the Saraswati Puja is round the corner. The artisans blame it on the current unrest in the State against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 for the current recess in their jobs.
The otherwise booming business of artisan Niranjan Paul has been dwindling over the year. His workshop at Pan Bazaar in Guwahati that usually receives the highest number of orders for idols now lies quiet.
Expressing his dismay, a confused Paul said: “Even as the Saraswati puja is right around the corner, till date, no order has been received for idol. By this time, I would usually receive around 100 to 150 orders. However, this time around I’ve received not a single order for idol even with the puja just five days away.”
Asked on the lack of interest among the public regarding the Saraswati puja, Paul said: “It’s probably due to the chaos that has engulfed the state right now. People are too busy protesting the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. The matriculation examinations are also near and educational institutes are probably getting prepared. Rumours have also done their bit in dampening the festive mood.”
On the art of idol making, Paul said: “A special clay known as Hira Mati is a must in moulding idols. Three years ago, an idol costing Rs 1,000 would cost Rs 500 for materials, excluding the labour charge. Now, prices of materials have gone up, but not the prices of idols.”
Paul’s is a centuries old family business. The minimum cost of an idol is Rs 2,000 and the maximum cost is Rs 8,000. “I have made 30 idols in anticipation of orders, and am hoping for the best,” Paul stated.
Also read: Guwahati City