An improvised tent on HB Road, Ranchi, acts as an idol workshop on Tuesday and rain turns the ground mucky in front of Bhuiyadih Area Sarbajanin Durga Puja pandal. Pictures by Prashant Mitra & Bhola Prasad
Mahishasurmardini faces a more threatening enemy than the demon king this Puja.
Nagging rain for the past 72 hours has already scuttled schedules of artisans at idol workshops across the state, particularly in Ranchi and Jamshedpur, while no promise of let-up in the next few days may leave elaborate pandal projects in the lurch.
Pandal artist Tapan Giri from Midnapore, Bengal, who has been roped in by organisers of Satya Amarlok Durga Puja in Ranchi, said overcast skies and frequent bouts of shower were denying clay idols enough time to bask in the sun.
“Sunshine is necessary for a pratima’s dry run before the first coat of colour can be applied. Rainfall is also hampering our pandal work. Today is the third day that we have not been able to work as planned. If the rain god continues his largesse, the devi’s mortal abode will be in real trouble,” he said.
Giri is leading a team of 30 artists for the Harmu Road pandal, which is being modelled on a temple and needs favourable climate to take final shape. “But, the weather is forcing my men to stay put in tents and hence, the progress of the pandal is slo-mo,” he added.
With the sun playing hide-and-seek, sheets of plastic are the only saviour.
“Idols have to be kept dry at every cost. We can’t apply paint on damp idols. We are also keeping vigil to ensure that rainwater doesn’t seep into our tents and ruin all our hard work,” said artisan Ramchandra Pal, who has his workshop on HB Road in Ranchi.
S.C. Gorai, an idol-maker at Ghurabandha in Jamshedpur, said he was taxed with 17 orders. “I am using burners to dry my idols or else there is no way I can deliver. Heated dung is coming in handy too,” he said.
Worries are in abundance at RR Sporting Club too. The Ratu Road organisers, who also have a Hindu temple theme this Durga Puja, are keeping their fingers crossed for a climate change. “We are making a pandal of kulhars (earthen tea cups). If we get another five days of sun, we will be able to rush our job and meet the Panchami (October 9) deadline,” said Sambhu Jana, another pandal artist from Midnapore.
The RR Sporting pandal sees an august gathering every Puja. This year, Governor Syed Ahmed is expected to grace Vijaya Dashami.
Santosh Gupta, president of Sangram Club near Kutchery Chowk, which is also on Ahmed’s itinerary, said their artisans and pandal artists would have to work overtime to meet the Maha Shashthi deadline next week. “The pandal structure has become damp and its premises mucky and unwelcome. We may have to work round-the-clock once the skies clear,” he said.
In Jamshedpur, too, several Puja committees are working overtime or engaging extra workforce to ease the Panchami deadline pressure.
“Pandal work is already running three days late. Artists are working even at night to make up for lost time. After all, we cannot fight nature,” said Pallab Dalal, vice-president of New Farm Area Sarbajanin Durga Puja Committee, which celebrates its diamond jubilee this year.
“Our 65ft theme pandal requires liberal use of hay. But, the rain has been a deterrent,” Dalal said, adding that 30 workers from Kanthi (East Midnapore) have been on the job for a month now.
Bhuiyadih Area Sarbajanin Durga Puja Committee, which is modelling its pandal on a cave with a tiger’s open jaws as the entrance, is equally worried. “The rain can play havoc with our plaster of Paris models. Pandal exterior work is going slow. We will have to work day and night once the weather is back to normal,” said patron Dulal Bhuiyan.
Weathermen have bad news for artisans and their ilk.
“The low-pressure is gradually moving towards the Odisha coast. Under its influence, Jharkhand will receive widespread rain in the next 24 hours,” said B.N. Chaudhury, a senior official at Patna Meteorological Centre.
J.S. Jojo, the acting director of Ranchi Met office, echoed him and said the wet spell might continue till weekend.