Idol makers of Bagichi Khiloniya Wali in Amritsar facing hardship

November 14th, 2007 - 2:47 am ICT by admin  
Amritsar, Oct.24 (ANI): Not very long ago idol maker Jiya Lal was a happy man, earning a handsome living, especially from the sale of idols of Lord Ganesha and the Goddess Lakshmi. But since the arrival of Chinese idols in the market, the family earnings have suffered.

Jiya Lal’s family shares its fate with fifteen other families in Bagichi Khiloniya Wali, a small colony of clay idol-makers, located near the Gate Khazana in Amritsar.

With the passage of time, Chinese and Plaster of Paris idols have become fashionable, and there are not many takers for clay idols.

“Many artists have started using plaster of Paris instead of clay. But still there is a section of devotees that specifically asks for clay idols due to their hardcore personal beliefs,” Jiya Lal says.

The discouraging demand for clay idols has compelled most of these families to either leave the place or just abandon the occupation that they once inherited with pride.

“Of the fifty-odd families that were once into idol-making in Bagichi Khiloniya Wali, just 15 of them are left today to carry on their legacy,” said Madan Mohan Pappu, another artisan.

Traditionalists, however, say the idols made of clay have always been accepted as most sacred due to usage of earth, as the most basic material.

“Clay idols are the most sacred of all other materials. Though idols made of pure silver are also used in temples. But these days most people have started using idols made of new material. Maybe, they are preferred because they are reusable,” said Ved Vyas, the chief priest of the famous Durgiana Temple in Amritsar.

Kuldeep is another clay idol maker who describes idol- making as an art form.

Idol makers use moulds to get the desired shape, but it requires a particular kind of expertise and pressure to evolve and image.

Rajesh Kumar, another artisan, complains of paying too heavy a price in pursuing clay idol making since his childhood.

“Neither we know the technique, nor can we afford to manufacture plastic idols. So we try to give new shapes to the idols every year to survive” says he.

He says that there have been times when the entire family had to work past midnight and the fruits were sweet in form of extra money that is missing nowadays.

It is only around Diwali that these families are cheerful about the likely income that the sales would bring. The rest of the year, it’s a struggle to survive.

Clay makers are now pursuing a hectic dawn to dusk schedule to meet the demand for Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi idols ahead of Diwali.

Six-inch clay idols are priced at just Rs.2, whereas the larger come for Rs.10. (ANI)

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