Coronavirus has struck a deadly blow to the entire artisans' hub with puja organisers from abroad informing their decision to call off the festivities this year at the last minute, several idol makers told PTI on Monday.
Several idol makers of Kumartuli, the artisans’ hub in the northern part of the city, said they are staring at huge losses as many Durga puja organisers from abroad have informed them of their decision to call off the festivities this year at the last minute due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Coronavirus has struck a deadly blow to the entire artisans’ hub with puja organisers from abroad informing their decision to call off the festivities this year at the last minute, several idol makers told PTI on Monday.
While bookings for three idols for the US, made at Prodyut Paul’s studio at Kumartuli have been cancelled, organisers of two other puja committees of US have asked him to keep the fibreglass images in proper condition hopeful about organising the festival next year, they said.
“In total, I had made five fibreglass idols for the US this year. All the five committees informed about not holding the puja this October. But two of them asked me to keep the idols for next year,” Prodyut Paul said.
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“We are desperately hoping that the situation will be better at least in the state after some time, as the pujas are still months away, to partly make up the huge loss. But the idols meant for overseas will remain unsold this year,” he said.
He said all the idols were to be shipped by this month end.
An office-bearer of Kumartuli Idol makers Association said of the around 200 Durga idols, slated to be shipped to US, UAE, Australia, Germany, UK, bookings of not more than five have been confirmed this year.
Mintu Pal, another popular clay modeller, said the organisers of a puja in the UK, which had been taking idol from him for past several years, communicated to him very recently that they won’t be able to take the idol due to the
prevailing situation in the country.
“I am staring at a big loss as the idol was almost complete when the lockdown began,” he said. Both Prodyut Paul and Mintu Paul said the semi-finished idols made of fibreglass cannot be given to puja committees in the city as they insist on clay images.
Nabin Pal, another idol maker, has also got order for two idols in UK and Germany – but the organisers informed in
the last week of March that they are not organising the festival this time.
“They did not cite any reason. But everyone knows how corona has wreaked havoc in the world,” Nabin Pal said. The idol makers are now pinning hope that the Durga puja festivities in the city will at least not be dented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“One big-time Durga Puja organiser had given verbal nod to an agreement for a big idol, which is their customary
tradition, before the lockdown. They had promised to seal the deal in 15 days. But they have now informed they will wait and watch before ordering the same idol or a much smaller one,” Prodyut Paul said.
Another local organiser said they will see how the situation unfolds before deciding on holding the puja or not,
“In our estimate, around 15 per cent puja committees have confirmed their bookings at Kumartuli till now this year, which would have been over 50 per cent in normal times,” the idol maker association office-bearer said.