Guwahati: The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the livelihoods of idol makers of Assam very hard as they are looking at deep losses with Vishwakarma Puja just round the corner. Orders have plummeted and their livelihoods are under threat.
Vishwakarma Puja followed by Durga Puja is the peak season for idol makers to generate the most revenue. As orders have reduced, sculptors haven’t been able to sell at their desired prices during this period.
“Market has been really bad, losses are aplenty,” said Babulal Paul, a sculptor from Guwahati.
Babulal hasn’t been able to sell even half of what he sold during Vishwakarma Puja last year.
Around 15 to 20 idol makers in the city haven’t been able set up shops this year due to the pandemic and also the safety guidelines and norms posted by the administration haven’t helped.
Babulal has spent Rs 2 lakh preparing for this year’s puja and said that he will be unlikely to recover the investment.
“We wait for customers since the morning, hardly one or two gets comes to buy, the market hasn’t been this bad ever,“ reflected Babulal staring at his colourful idols left idle in his shop.
Babulal Paul has employed five more workers under him and paying their wages has become his toughest challenge.
“How can I pay my workers if I’m myself under so much debt? This was supposed to be the season to sustain my livelihood,” said Babulal.
With Durga puja also closing in, organising committees have already held a meeting with the Kamrup Metro District Administration. However, no guidelines have been issued for the celebration.
State health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, meanwhile, has issued caution to people from flocking pandals during this year’s Durga Puja with COVID-19 cases spiking rapidly in the state.
“If people gather in large numbers in the pandals like before, the situation could turn from bad to worse. Then our task would become even more challenging,” he warned.