Pune: A city-based sculptor has been exporting idols of Lord Ganesh to the devotees residing abroad for the past 17 years, enabling them to celebrate the festival with idols coming all the way from India. This year too, Rajendra Deshmukh of Shree Natraj Arts has exported idols to Holland, London, Mauritius and Canada and said unlike in our country, idols smaller in size are in a greater demand abroad.
“This year, I have exported around 1,700 idols to these countries. Earlier, I exported just a couple of hundred idols every year. I have seen an increase in demand of around five per cent every year,” he said. If an idol costs around Rs 900 in India, then it costs around Rs 2,700 if exported including the packing and shipping charges. Deshmukh said that every year, he prefers taking orders latest by May or June - three months before the Ganesh festival. He further added that while it is easier to send idols to the Gulf countries or other Asian countries, permits are a must while exporting them to Europe or the US.
Speaking about how he began exporting the idols overseas, Deshmukh said that while he started exporting idols at an individuals level to a few friends and acquaintances, the business expanded in a few years as more and more number of people abroad wanted idols from back home.
He further said, “Initially, we sent idols to people in other countries through the groups and associations of Indians there. However, now the number of individuals requesting for idols too has increased. We are now developing a full-fledged website to make it easy for people to order idols, as the website that we have now has very limited options to choose from.”
Exporting the idols is no simple thing. “Along with the idol, you need to attach a number of certificates about the colours used, the time taken for dissolving according to the temperature in the country, quality of the packaging material, etc. For instance, people cannot immerse the Ganesh idols in Thames river without a permit for the same,” Deshmukh said.