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west bengalome May, the Pal family from Nadia district of West Bengal makes its way to the ‘City of Destiny’ to mould idols of Lord Ganesha and goddess Durga for the festive season.

In all, 40 members of the family leave their children and womenfolk at home and pitch tents in different areas of the city for the purpose.

Binoy Pal and his friend Poltu Pal have set up a makeshift studio at Bhupesh Nagar near Gokul Theatre, and are working two shifts a day to mould clay into 200 Ganesh and 150 Durga idols.

“We have been coming to Visakhapatnam since 2002 and our orders have registered a 10-fold increase. We bring our cook and, if required, work three shifts to complete the orders,” says Binoy.

They believe in creating eco-friendly idols.

The main ingredients are clay, bamboo, jute, and dried-up hay. The idol-makers also import about 4 MT of clay from the Ganges from Kolkata to give a finer finish to the idols.

“We work for five months from May to October and leave the city once Durga Puja is over. Earlier, people of the city used to demand idols made of plaster of Paris. But we convinced them about clay idols and its eco-friendliness. We even try avoiding chemical colours,” says Poltu Pal.

This year’s theme

This year, the best selling theme is Bahubali . Remember the protagonist of the blockbuster carrying a Shivalingam on his shoulders?

The idol-makers have created Lord Ganesha carrying a Shivalingam on his shoulder, depicting the scene from the movie.

“Every year, we come out with a common and popular theme, which strikes a chord with the local populace. And this year it is Bahubali ,” says Binoy Pal.

Apart from setting up a makeshift studio at Bhupesh Nagar, Binoy’s cousins have started their units in Gajuwaka and Marripalem.

“I employ about 14 people at my place. In all, 40 persons have come from my village,” adds Binoy.

Harassment

But all is not well for the artisans from West Bengal. The main problem they face is language. This apart, they face harassment from local ‘dadas’.

“We are artisans and we feel that our art should be respected. But a few local goons treat us as outsiders. They not only behave badly with us but also try to extort money from us. We earn a small margin of profit, and any cut in it hurts us,” rues Binoy.

We have been coming to Visakhapatnam since 2002 and our orders have registered a 10-fold increase

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