Hyderabad: The COVID-19 pandemic continued to weaken festive spirits ahead of Ganesh Chaturthi as idol makers from Dhoolpet, where most of the idols are made, have seen a major footfall in business this year. Many of the artisans, who usually make a killing during this festival each year, said that sales have fallen by as much as 90 per cent this time around.
“This year, the footfall in the Dhoolpet market is very low due to fear of the coronavirus infection. We have never witnessed such a downfall among buyers during this festival. For the first time, artisans have only prepared 6,000 Ganesh idols whereas every year we use to make 30,000 to 40,000 of those. So all of us together have sold about 150 to 200 idols,” said Kailash Singh Hazari, an idol maker from Dhoolpet who is popularly known as ‘Murthi Kalakaar’, and is also the Vice-President of Telangana Ganesh Welfare Samithi.
Kailash Singh further said that other artisans like himself have gone into debt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “As we are surviving only by making idols, we purchased raw material with borrowed money. There is no hope for sales and this has also affected the junior artisans and laborers who use to be employed as well. We have not been able to pay their ages as well,” he added.
Another artisan from Dhoolpet, Manoj Singh told siasat.com that sales have taken a hit this time since the state government asked people to celebrate festivals at home. “People are only purchasing idols that are four to six feet in height, which does not give us enough business,” he pointed out.
The situation from a buyer’s perspective has also not been very forthcoming, as many fear getting infected by the COVID-19 virus. Satish Reddy, one of the few shoppers at Dhoolpet, said that he was only purchasing smaller idols as taking it for immersion to the Hussain Sagar lake will not be possible.
“We are quite disheartened that we cannot celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi due to the COVID-19 outbreak. We have just planned a pooja at our residence. Only a small idol is required for that,” he told Siasat.com. The 10-day festivities of Ganesh Chaturthi celebrating the birth anniversary of Lord Ganesha, will begin on August 22. The festival will end with the final immersion of the Ganesha idols, called the Visarjan. Hyderabad police commissioner Anjani Kumar earlier this week said that permissions to put up Ganesh pandals will not be given. However, the major Khairatabad Ganesh, which is only nine-feet this year, is likely to be immersed in the Hussin Sagar lake this year, albeit with lesser pomp and fanfare.