Two piles of mud within the parking zone of the defunct Chandralok Cinema in south Delhi’s Chittaranjan Park are the one discernible indicators of the house serving because the office for idol makers over 5 months yearly.
The festive season is across the nook, however the customary idol makers are lacking in motion, as are their Ganesha idols — lots of which might have been receiving the ultimate touches by this time of the yr, if not for Covid-19.
“Starting June yearly, a couple of dozen idol makers from West Bengal would camp right here for 5 months. Nobody has turned up this time,” says Zulfikar Malik, the caretaker of the lonely parking zone.
With the outbreak of the coronavirus illness forcing authorities to limit public gatherings, most idol makers within the metropolis returned to their hometowns through the lockdown.
With the uncertainty surrounding upcoming festivals, and Delhi nonetheless recording a median of over 1,000 new instances of the an infection daily, the idol makers who stayed again within the Capital face a dilemma — to start work for grand festivities or not.
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“I’m making small Ganesha idols for individuals who wish to put them up of their houses throughout Ganesh Chaturthi. However I don’t know if I ought to make just a few massive ones for the pandals (levels),” says 48-year-old Govind Nath, who has been making idols of deities at a shed in CR Park Kali Mandir for many years now.
It takes Nath round a month to prepared a 12-feet-tall idol. He says it’s simpler when he works on a number of idols concurrently. However he isn’t positive if he ought to proceed with the plan when he has received no orders, and far nonetheless up within the air.
Ganesh Chaturthi is because of be held on August 22, and Durga Puja can be celebrated between October 22 and 26.
Whereas non secular locations within the Capital had been thrown open for the general public in early June, the relief got here with a bunch of guidelines — resembling sustaining a six-feet distance between every devotee, not touching idols and never making any choices. Non secular congregations are nonetheless not permitted, even below the Centre’s Unlock three pointers.
In the meantime, enthusiasm has steadily dampened amongst idol makers and devotees.
Sunil Pal, vice-president of CR Park Mela Floor Durga Puja Samiti says he doesn’t anticipate the federal government to grant permission even for Durga Puja. “Often, we place orders for Mata idols by June-end, however this time we’re but to determine,” Pal says.
The Bengali-dominated south Delhi locality is the hub of Durga Puja festivities in Delhi yearly.
Even when they’re permitted to arrange pandals on a small scale, the affiliation will accept smaller idols that may be readied at brief discover, Pal says.
Idol makers say given the amount of idols required for Durga Puja yearly, they start work in June itself.
However Kheta Ram, a 26-year-old idol maker in Tughlaqabad village in South Delhi says he’s but to start work. “I’m not positive folks will wish to spend cash on idols this time. These organising pandals are unlikely to obtain donations. So I’ve been suspending the work daily. I’ve misplaced the passion to pursue such arduous work,” he says.
For Ganesh Chaturthi, there can be far fewer pandals in Delhi this yr, says Mahendra Ladda, president of the 18-year-old Shri Gant Sewa Mandal Delhi, an affiliation in Laxmi Nagar.
“There can be little work for the artisans this time, as celebrations can be muted, however our pandal will nonetheless go forward with celebrations, even when it means shortening the interval to 3 days as an alternative of the same old 10, and having solely the core members carry out the puja,” he says.
He says pandals are normally arrange a month earlier than the celebrations, however all the pieces is on maintain this yr.
“We’ve by no means missed the celebrations within the final 18 years, and the puja can be streamed on-line for the devotees this yr,” he added.
Whereas the affiliation has already positioned an order for a two-feet-tall statue, idol makers aren’t positive they’ll have the ability to ship massive idols if orders are positioned late.
“I had about 20 folks working for me, who’ve all returned to their dwelling cities and villages in Bengal. They don’t wish to come again, and even when some do, I don’t know if I pays them the same old wages,” Govind Nath says.
Working alone for now, Nath is readying a few massive Ganesha and Durga idols — every of them about half the same old dimension he prepares for CR Park’s main pandals, however he isn’t positive they’ll discover patrons.
Nath and different idol makers had obtained a jolt early on within the lockdown itself. That they had made Durga and Annapurna Devi idols for Ram Navami, however the lockdown was introduced earlier than they could possibly be bought out for the competition on April 2.
“Not one of many 70 idols I had ready had been bought. Now I’ve packed them in plastic covers and saved them to promote throughout Durga Puja, and hope folks will purchase them for his or her houses. I’ll be promoting them for a lot lower than regular,” says Ram Rawat, an idol maker in Yamuna Pushta, close to Akshardham Mandir.
“I’m making simply round 200 small Ganesha idols this time,” says Rawat, who made 1,000 idols final yr.