Durga Puja this year is likely to be much toned down one with the COVID-19 protocol in place and the organisers unwilling to spend as much as the earlier years.
The return of lockdown in different parts of West Bengal has forced artisans of Kumartuli, the famed hub of clay modellers in the city, to ask for 50 per cent advance payment during booking of idols. The government has clamped lockdown in containment zones in the city since July 9. It has announced total lockdown in the entire state twice a week till August end to check the spread of the contagion.
Durga Puja this year is likely to be much toned down one with the COVID-19 protocol in place and the organisers
unwilling to spend as much as the earlier years. “We have unanimously decided to ask for a 50 per cent advance during booking so that we don’t incur heavy losses as we have suffered after Cyclone Amphan and the lockdown since March end,” a spokesman of ‘Kumartuli Mritshilpi Samity’ said.
Kanchi Paul, a prominent clay modeller of Kumartuli, told PTI that she has got bookings of 10 idols in the past
one month and many others had called and told her that they will visit her studio once the lockdown is over. “But we are insisting on payment of 50 per cent of the price of the idol as advance before sealing the order. This is important because we had suffered huge losses as all the finished Annapurna and Basanti idols for their respective pujas which took place in the end of March could not be sold as the pandemic had set in.
“Since we have made huge investments, we cannot take a chance,” she said. To a question, Paul said the bookings this time were far less than in other years. There would be bookings for at least 30 Durga idols after Rath Yatra around this time in the previous years but she has no complaints.
“The situation is different. Unlike 12-15 feet high idols in the past, organisers are settling for those with heights of 8-10 feet. We are happy that the orders are at least coming,” she said. Paul said the puja organisers this time are asking for idols of much lesser price than the Rs one lakh to Rs 1.5 lakh they paid in the previous years.
“There has not been any booking for over 10 feet high idol. The price of an idol has been halved as both small and
big puja organizers have been asking for low priced ones,” famous clay modeller Prodyut Paul said. Paul said the price of an idol around 15 feet high would be around Rs two lakh but no Durga puja organiser is ready to pay such an amount this time.
The Samity spokesman said most of the 700 clay modellers who live and work in the area have got bookings of
five to six idols each. This would have been more than 15 on an average on earlier occasions but “at least a start has been made.” “We are getting bookings for Ganesha idols but in ones and twos at many studios. The organisers said they cannot spend much,” he said.