Clay artisans in M’singh finally back in business | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 06, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:34 AM, October 06, 2020

Clay artisans in M’singh finally back in business

Orders coming in ahead of Durga Puja

After several months, the clay is being moulded, the paintbrushes are running, and idols of deities are on their way to mandaps for the big celebration.  

After staying idle due to the pandemic, artisans in Mymensingh city and other districts are busy completing orders ahead of Durga Puja, one of the biggest religious festivals of the Hindu community.

"We were depressed ahead of the festival, but fortunately, we finally got orders and are working under immense pressure to deliver the idols on time," said Joyonta Kumar Ghosh, a leading artisan in Mymensingh city.

"I got orders for 14 idols from Mymensingh city, and the rate is between Tk 15,000-50,000, which is less than that of last year," said Joyonta, also proprietor of "Mritt O Mrittika".

"Last year, seven workers were busy completing idols for over two months, but this year, I had to engage nine workers for timely delivery," he said.

"There were also occasions for various pujas -- including Basanti, Ganga, Ganesh and Bipodnashini pujas -- that went away during the pandemic, and we could not work…These religious celebrations give us important financial support throughout the year," he added.

Shambhu Das, proprietor of "Sajib Mrittika Shilpalaya", said he only got six orders, which are almost half that of last year. "But we are under huge pressure, as the orders came in a short time, that too amid worker shortage," he said.

"Usually, we start getting orders three or four months earlier and work in a relaxed manner, but this year, we got them a month ago. But we're happy to get them," he added.

Joy Podder, another artisan at the city's Daspara area, said he got orders for 11 idols, although it was 14 last year.

"As many of us had used up deposited money during the shutdown, we currently can't invest money to take more orders," he said.

"After a break for more than seven months, we're busy supporting our families. Many workers have engaged themselves in other professions for survival," said 55-year-old Dinesh Pal, an artisan hailing from Mymensingh's Phulpur upazila.

"After struggling during the pandemic, we now have the opportunity to make idols, and we'll go for painting and other related works within the second week of October," said Nikhil Chandra Pal, the 80-year-old artisan from the city's Dharmashala Temple.

"Clay artistes will see better days in the future," hoped Nikhil, who has been in his ancestral profession for 60 years.

Shankar Saha, organising secretary of the district's puja celebration committee, said 773 mandaps for Durga Puja were set up in the district last year, and the number would be similar this year.

"We have already held a meeting with Mymensingh Deputy Commissioner Md Mizanur Rahman, and he suggested us to maintain social distancing and health guidelines," he said.

Puja mandap committees have already been asked to arrange facilities for hand sanitisation and not allow devotees inside mandaps without masks, informed Shankar.

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