It was generally believed that idol makers, this year, would witness a boom since the 'ban' on Chinese idols would give a major boost to 'made in India' sculptures.
However, idol makers in Lucknow, Kanpur, Prayagraj and even Gorakhpur are still waiting for orders before they begin making idols for the upcoming festive season.
"We make Ganesh idols for Ganesh Chaturthi which will be held on August 22 this year. Then we make Vishwakarma idols which will be held in September. After that, there is Durga Puja, followed by Diwali. Normally, this is a very busy period for us but this year, there is a shortage of orders," said Sanjay Prajapati, an idol maker from Chinhat area in Lucknow.
According to him, people are still undecided about celebrating these festivals in view of the pandemic.
"People do not know whether there will be a lockdown again or if they will be allowed to celebrate the festivals," he stated.
Kartik, another idol maker, said that they start ordering raw material in February and March but due to the lockdown, they could not place orders. The idol makers place orders for stacks of bamboo poles, wood, dry grass, hay, ornaments, clothes and decorative items for the idols - all of which comes from different places.
"We start making idols from April and that is when we get the orders. This year, the entire schedule has bene disturbed and now with the government imposing a ban on public gathering, we doubt if Durga Puja and Ganesh Puja pandals will be put up at all," he said.
The Yogi Adityanath government has announced that terracotta idols will be replacing Chinese idols, giving a major push to 'make in India' projects.
"We have not received orders for terracotta idols in large numbers. The moulded idols, made of plaster of Paris, are always in high demand because of the detailed ravings," said Kartik.
Most of the idol sellers in Lucknow buy idols in varying sizes and forms from Kolkata and sell them in special Ganesh markets in the state capital.
"The big puja pandals are undecided about the scale and duration of the Ganpati puja and have not yet placed their orders. The same is the case with Durga Puja celebrations. This was the time when we made enough money to last us for the entire year but this time, there is almost no business," said Raju Kashyap, an idol seller in Saadatganj area in Lucknow.
The idol makers want the state government to provide financial assistance to them and also arrangement for the sale of their products.