Millennium Post

How rag pickers become idol makers for Ganesha

How rag pickers become idol makers for Ganesha
A small colony with narrow lanes at Noida, near Akshardham Temple becomes the hub of idol making during festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi, Vishwakarma Puja, Durga Puja and Basant Panchami to name a few. Around 150 people, all hailing from Rajasthan, settled at Samaspur Jagir village around 25 years ago.

To earn their livelihood, they chose rag-picking as profession. From a child as young as five years old to a man of 80, they clear garbage from nearby areas including Vinod Nagar, Pandav Nagar and Patpargunj for their livelihood, earning Rs 3,000 to Rs 3,500 every month. They learnt how to make idols about 20 years back and started selling them at traffic signals. This they did to supplement their income from rag picking.

The positive response to their ‘artwork’ made them go for bigger idols. As Delhi saw inward migration from the east and Mumbai, the new immigrants brought with them their festivals, opening up new vistas for these rag-picking idol makers.  

From 6 inch to 10 feet statues, the part-time rag-pickers and their families devote around four to five months to make more than four thousand attractive sculptures of Ganapati. The statues made of plaster of paris are sold at prices ranging from Rs 50 for a 6-inch idol to Rs 30,000 for large statues which could be as tall as 10 feet.

Since the past seven years, they are using eco-freindly colours. However, the POP used in making idols are now banned in many states. Devotees from Delhi-NCR including Manesar and Ballabgarh specifically come to Samaspur Jagir to buy idols that are displayed on a footpath at NH-24.

Kalu (25), an artist who has made around 500 idols, said, ‘I don’t like rag-picking, instead I love to make idols for different occasions. Ganesha is my favourite God and I can make any kind of statue of him if provided with a suitable photograph.’
Chayanika Nigam

Chayanika Nigam

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