Idol-makers at work in Tharpakhna, Ranchi, on a rainy Tuesday. (Hardeep Singh)
Nagging rain for the past 48 hours has scuttled schedules of artisans at idol workshops in Ranchi gearing up for Durga Puja.
Unable to dry the clay idols of Durga and her divine family, with less than a month left to meet delivery deadlines, artisans are spending sleepless nights. Even if they finish the work, quality will be a major issue, they rue.
“After drying, we start painting the idols, but where is the time? Any other occasion can be deferred in the face of inclement weather. But come rain, storm or earthquake, Sashthi will dawn on the predestined date. Nothing can push Durga Puja back. No excuses will work,” said Ram Chandra Pal, one of the oldest idol-makers in the capital.
Pal has received more than 30 orders not only from city-based Durga Puja samitis, but also from far-off places like Khunti, Ormanjhi, Tupudana, Ramgarh etc.
“We have just completed making 25 idols, but none have dried. We are indeed clueless about what to do if the showers continue for the next few days,” he added.
Pal hires artisans from Calcutta’s Kumartuli area. About eight idol-makers are at present working at his workshop near Albert Ekka Chowk.
They also reiterated Pal’s concerns. “Humlog ko bahut dikkat ho rahi hai. Ek to jagah kam hai, upar se itna pani baras raha hai. Kaise kaam kare (We are space-starved and on top of that, this rain. How do we work?),” said artisan Raja.
If Pal’s men are clueless, idol-makers at Bihar Club in Kutchery have requested puja organisers to provide heaters for drying.
The showers not only have idol-makers worried, residents and organisers are sceptical. Fanning their fears is the memory of last year’s cyclone Phailin, which lashed decorated pandals, and in many cases, ruined glittering idols and attractive illuminations.
Even pandal-hoppers, forced to stay indoors last year, are praying for clear weather. “The way it is raining, we are worried. We do not want to lose out on the fun during the Pujas,” said Ranchi homemaker Riti Sinha.