By Kiran Dahitule, DNA

Be it the regular plaster of paris (PoP) idols or the eco-friendly versions, the prices of Ganpati idols have gone up by 10% to 50% ahead of Ganeshotsav this year. The festival will kick-start on September 1. 

The artisans claimed that the cost of raw materials and other inputs have shot up significantly, forcing them to increase the prices of the idols.

According to Chaitanya Tagade of Guruprasad Enterprises, makers of eco-friendly Ganesh idols, “Shaadu mud, the raw material for making clay idols, is very difficult to get, thus raising the cost of the raw material. Moreover, the labour cost for making the idols has also gone up.”

According to Tagade, the Ganesh idol that one could have bought for Rs300 last year, would cost between Rs450 and Rs500 this year.

Another idol maker, Abhijeet Dhondphale of Dhondphale Kalaniketan, said even the cost of transportation of raw materials had increased due to which the cost of idols has also gone up. He expected a 30% rise in the prices of idols.

“I must caution people that some idol sellers might cheat people by selling PoP idols coated with mud and charge exorbitantly. To differentiate between the two, people should know the basics. PoP idols are light weight; painting on idols made of mud is darker as compared to the PoP idols,” he said.

Apparently, the mandals are ready to pay higher prices for buying Ganesh idols this year. Gaurav Borade, secretary of Shaniwar Peth Mehunpura Sarvajanik Ganesh Mandal said, “The rise in idol prices is obvious, given the high costs of raw materials and the fact that this is the only season in the whole year when artisans can earn well.”

The vice-president of Rashtriya Sattoti Haud Mandal Trust, Rohan Bhand, said that the rise in cost of idols would affect individual families more than the mandals, since the latter organise the festival with contributions from people.

“Although prices of idols would be high, people would not mind since it is a religious festival and it is more important to seek the blessings of Lord Ganesha rather than worry about financial aspects,” he remarked.