Kumbharpura artists hope to carve living out of Bappa’s idols

Nagpur: While Chitar Oli in Nagpur remains one of the most celebrated hubs of idol makers, particularly Ganesh idols, where both local as well as devotees from the nearby districts throng to seek their loved idols, the small roadside shops in Kumbharpura in Juni Mangalwari are no exemption. The shops are, nothing but a clutter of small tinsheds supported with wooden sticks and covered by plastic sheets as rain and dust protection. However, amid series of inconveniences the artists whose livelihood rests on this work, does not let a scar of hassle on the idols of lord Ganesha.

Away from exposure!
Kumbharpura area houses 50-60 families of sculptors living in the huts made of tin that too within few meters of radius. The artists here are deprived of ideal exposure. The area remains away from hustle and bustle that affect their small time businesses. Forced to conduct sale from this nondescript area, these artists are denied space in Chitar Oli as they are unable to pay heavy rents for the temporary spaces there. This has confined these idol makers to limit their business and are forced to sell their idols at wholesale prices to make their ends meet.

Laying hands in clay
The clay idols are more time consuming than the idols made of Plaster of Paris (PoP). The artist who handcrafts the sculptures is often underpaid; faces harassment at the hands of costumers in the name of bargains. However, all efforts seem turned out to be just fine for me once I see my daughter smiling, tells Arun Kapate, a sculptor from the third generation of family living in Kumbharpura.

“Though my daughter Kalyani is just 7 she helps her mother Nanda with household work and even assists me while painting and tailoring the idols. It takes around two days to complete an idol with extreme human efforts. We have no money to hire an aide; hence after completing her housework Nanda too joins me in the process. Despite so much effort we put in, the outcome is often substandard,” he added.

Spiralling Markets
Speaking to Nagpur Today, Ganesh elder brother of Arun said, “The market of clay idols has been witnessing incessant downfall from past five years owing to PoP idols. The present scenario is far more difficult of the artists and I’ve seen it all. Now, I don’t want our coming generation to face the same issue and that is why we are inclining them towards education,” Ganesh asserted.

By Shubham Nagdeve