Sharmili Mallick

Durga Puja - It is that time of the year when the festivity fever goes high and the artisans who design 'Jari Medha’ in several sahis and lanes in Cuttack are busy all day long giving the perfect cuts and shapes to colour papers and decoratives used in the tableaus and idols at the puja mandaps.

But this year, they seem to have all the time in the world.

Though the Covid-19 graph has come down, these artisans are staring at huge losses for the second year in a row as they are not getting many orders for decorative ‘jari’ works due to the restriction imposed by the Odisha Government on gathering at Durga Puja pandals and cap on the height of idols.

Artisans belonging to the Muslim community residing at Alamchand Bazar in the millennium city have been into making ‘jari medhas’ for generations.

The Alamchand Bazar artisans claim that they used to receive 10 to 15 jari medha orders for Durga Puja pandals every time but this year they have got just one to two orders. Reason, the restrictions on the celebrations amid the fear of third pandemic wave in Odisha.

Around 15-20 artisans of Alamchand Bazar said that the profit they earn by making jari medha for Dusshera and other pujas like Ganesh Puja, Durga Puja, Laxmi Puja and Kartik Puja during four months of the festive season is enough to feed their families the entire year.

Apart from Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, they used to receive orders from Rourkela, Berhampur and Kendrapara.

An artisan at Alamchand Bazar said, “We have been doing the jari work for the last 30 years but this year, we did not get many orders. As there is a limit on the height of idols this year, the size of medhas have been decreased. This has severely impacted the business,” he added.

“This is our hereditary vocation and we used to earn well during the festival time. But due to the restrictions on the celebrations for the last two years, we have been struggling to eke out a living,” rued Sayyed Abid Ali, another artisan.

Similarly, one more craftsman named Ajmat Khan said “Earlier we used to get orders in bulk but we also cancelled some due to resources and time constraints. We worked from early morning to late hours of the night to complete the orders on time. But due to mute celebrations this year in view of the pandemic, we do not have any order for big medhas."