By: Chetna Yerunkar, Mid-Day 

With petrol and diesel prices shooting up transport costs, rise in Plaster of Paris rates is forcing the common man to choose between worshipping and saving, this Ganeshotsav

Mumbai: The omnipresent inflation hasn’t spared the Lord either.
Along with petro-prices past the sky-high limit, your favourite Ganesh idols will also stake a firm claim on your geometrically progressing spending this year. The idols will cost you 50 per cent more than what you paid last year.

The price of a foot-long Ganesha idol was Rs 500-900 last year. This year, it is Rs 1,000-1,500, a market survey by MiD DAY revealed.

The reason for this particular price surge is the increased rate of Plaster of Paris (PoP), which by the way, is expected to rise even further in the coming days, as the Ganesha frenzy peaks.

The current rate of PoP is Rs 120 per sack (one sack is 20 kg), as opposed to Rs 70 before. Add the hiked prices of petrol and diesel and do the math to arrive at the overpriced sculptures. 

Every year, the price tags on the idol read 10 per cent more than the previous year’s. This year, it would be four times the usual swell, thanks to the benevolence of an unrelenting inflation.

Vijay Khatu, a known idol maker in the city, said, “This year, the idols of Lord Ganesha will cost 40 per cent more than last year.
This is because not only has the transportation cost increased, but the rates of Plaster of Paris have shot up tremendously.”

Santosh Kambli, one of the makers of the grandest of statue of them all, Lalbaugcha Raja, said, “We could not stock PoP in bulk when the prices were low for fear that the rains might have spoilt it. 

Now, as the peak season has started, PoP dealers are charging more. As such, we, along with our buyers, suffer.”

Ramesh Rawale, chairman of Maharashtra Murtikaar Association, said, “We have our storehouses and workshops in Pen because BMC doesn’t give us the permit to build a makeshift tent here. 

That only happens in June. So we spend for transport. Since the rates of petrol and diesel shoot up every new day, naturally we have to increase idols prices.” 

Home truths
The price boost is putting devotees from middle and lowers income categories in a predicament of faith, as they cannot afford such high prices, and will not stop worshipping.

A resident of Parel, Aarti Kabre, who gets an idol to her house every year during Ganesha Chaturthi, said, “I booked a three-feet Ganesha idol three days ago and paid Rs 4,200. Last year, the same idol cost me Rs 2,800.
This is piling on to the common man’s dilemma. We can’t do away with an age-old ritual just because of increasing prices.”

Suresh Hindlekar, an Andheri resident, said, “The increasing prices are obviously affecting us. We don’t mind paying them because it is a religious ceremony. 

But many poor families cannot afford the high cost, but will still pay, given their religious leanings.  This is not fair as worshipping god is priceless.”