Kendrapara, Sept 30(LocalWire):Preparations for Durga Puja and Laxmi Puja are in full swing in the coastal district of Kendrapara and idol-makers of Kumbharasahi in the outskirts of Kendrapada town are working day-and-night to meet the huge demands.
Babaji Behera is an expert with his two-decade-long experience.
‘All the members of our family are involved in making idols.
As Puja approaches, idol-makers are working round the clock to meet the demands,’ said 15-year-old Pramod while helping his father make an idol.
Around 50 families are busy applying finishing touches to the idols in Kumbharasahi.
‘Since long, our family members are making clay images of deities during Durga Puja and other festivals.
Two decades ago, over 100 families took up this art.
Today, it has shrunk to around 50. Among these, the number of families solely depending on this job is less,’ said 70-year-old Jiban Behera, an artisan from Kumbharasahi.
‘It is difficult to carry big idols to faraway puja pandals from our village and so several artisans make idols at the puja pandals itself,’ said Ashok Behera, another artisan.
‘Making clay idols is a seasonal business so the younger generation from our families do not prefer to continue their forefathers’ art and so we are not getting young artisans to teach them the art of idol making,’ lamented another artisan Basant Behera.
To make this year’s Puja an environment-friendly one, some Puja committees have placed orders for environmental-friendly idols and so we are not using plaster of Paris that takes much longer time to dissolve.
We are using baked clay, coconut husk and eco-friendly colours to make idols,’ said Madan Mohan Behera, another artisan from Kumbharasahi.
‘Plaster of Paris reduces the oxygen level in water, so we ordered an eco-friendly idol of Ma Durga for our Puja,’ said Sarbeswar Das, president of Ma Durga puja committee, Indupur.
But still, most artisans are busy making idols out of plaster of Paris and other chemical and toxic colours.
‘Eco- friendly idols are not attractive so we use chemical colours to paint the idols.
Many idol-makers have also no knowledge about eco-friendly colours,’ said Anil Behera an idol maker.
‘Making clay image is working on a slice of heritage and is facing a bleak future due to several factors.
Its future is uncertain as it is plagued by rising costs and dwindling interest among the new generation,’ said Randhir Behera.