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Hyderabad Dhoolpet artisans looking forward to good Vinayaka Chaturthi festivities business .

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staff Reporter

Hyderabad: Every year, thousands of people visit the narrow lanes of Dhoolpet around this time of the year. Several colourful Ganesha idols of different shapes, sizes and makes – for pandals and homes – are lined up outside almost every house just before the eleven-day Vinayaka Chaturthi festivities.

However, after a lean season last year due to the pandemic, and the lingering fear of a third wave now, the hustle-bustle is missing from this neighbourhood which houses not only Hyderabad-based idol makers but many migrant labourers as well.

While the earnings from this one season are enough for most to sustain them for the whole year, no business last year has thrown several people into debts.

A young idol maker, Pawan Singh, who has already started working on making the idols, says, “Ours is a seasonal business. Apart from the Ganesha festival and Navratri, we hardly get any work. Most of us take loans, get the material and then make the idols. After the festival, we have to pay back our loans.”

According to the artisans working in Dhoolpet, the annual turnover of the whole area during the festive season usually is anywhere between Rs 25 crore to Rs 30 crore.

However, with almost no business last year, the place could generate only about Rs 5 crore to Rs 6 crore during the pandemic.

Although only 10 per cent of orders have come till now, the artisans and workers are hopeful that they will at least be able to earn their investment. Shares Subhash, “We understand that last year did not go well for any one. So, we have decided that we will not be increasing the price of the idols, to encourage more people to come and buy the Ganesha from us.”

Most of the artisans here had taken some loans last year that are still pending. “We also have to pay for a few of our workers. If this season doesn’t go well, a lot of us will have to face a severe financial crisis,” he says. The little work of making statues and other art installations that came their way otherwise also dried up last year due to the pandemic, pushing them further into crisis.

However, Pawan and many like him are still hopeful that this season will help them revive financially. Subhash Singh, an idol-maker, shares that business is picking up slowly. Several people from various districts from the Telugu speaking States, as well as other States, have already placed their orders.

“Last year was pretty bad for all of us. We generally start the whole process in March, and so last year some work was already in progress when the lockdown was announced. At that time we thought that it might end in weeks, however, it got extended and eventually ended in June. By then it was already too late for us to make any kind of big idols. Also, we got almost no orders,” he says.

During the second wave, the idol makers at Dhoolpet were worried that they would have to go without any business this season too. However, things are looking slightly better now. “Till now we have received about 10 per cent of the orders we used to get before Covid-19. But we are hopeful,” Subhash says.

With the work starting in various studios, several migrant labours have also come back to the city.“After the lockdown was announced we thought it was better we left for home as there was no work and we were scared about the well-being of our families,” says Jitender Singh, migrant labour from Auraiya, Uttar Pradesh, who came back to Hyderabad along with his brothers.

“We came a few weeks back and saw that the work was slowly starting again. The owners of studios have been extremely helpful. As the orders are increasing day-by-day, we are hoping that this season will be good,” he adds.

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