High cost of clay, low demand hit idol makers
The Kosapet market is primarily active during Vinayaga Chaturthi, Navaratri and Janmashtmi
• NEETIKA KUMARI
CHENNAI: Kosapet, a small neighbourhood in city suburbs, has been the destination for handmade idols for decades. But the community today is waging a losing battle against changing market conditions.
Viveka Nandan (40) started the idol-making business after losing his job during the pandemic.
He had worked in an IT office before, but now sells clay idols in Chennai and Kadalur. Viveka said, “More than 90 per cent of customers ask for Plaster of Paris idols as it is cheaper. One festive season requires one lorry of clay that costs me Rs 10,000. It’s difficult for me to recover the cost.”
He stated that the name Kosapet was based on the name of the community who were involved in idol making for generations. “Three decades ago, around 100 families were involved in the business, but today it’s just 10 families,” he rued.
Manikarna (38) has now resorted to making idols using Plaster of Paris as it has a longer shelf life. “It’s cheaper to make as well. People generally buy idols that can be kept for a longer period,” he pointed out.
The Kosapet market is primarily active during Vinayaga Chaturthi, Navaratri and Janmashtmi. Price of idols sold in the market range between Rs 30 and Rs 17,000. For the rest of the year, artisans switch to other professions as auto-rickshaw drivers, LIC agents or renting their houses.
Lokeshwari (30), who has been selling idols for nearly a decade, laments overs the challenges of sustaining a livelihood. “Sales have reduced as the input-cost increased. The prices of clay and paper have only been increasing. We’re yet to come to terms with the pandemic.” Though the pandemic gave them an alternate option of selling idols online, demand had dwindled this year, she rued.