Chennai, Dec 24 (SocialNews.XYZ) The village of Vilachery in Tamil Nadu's Madurai is unique for its craftsmen who roll out beautiful clay and plaster of paris figurines of Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, angels and cattle for the Christmas season.
Most of the sales are for different towns of Tamil Nadu and a major chunk goes to Kerala where Christmas is celebrated in high pomp and galore.
The figurines are made from cottage industry as each of the 300 homes of Vilachery village is a factory for making these figurines. While these craftsmen make dolls and other figures during major festivals of Dussehra and Diwali, Christmas is the time of the year when they do brisk business.
Interestingly, these artisans have unique moulds which makes them stand out from the rest and this has been given recognition now. The villagers are now planning to get a Geographical Indication (GI) tag for their products.
The artisans of this village are now joined together under the umbrella of Kullalar Handicraft Artisan Welfare Association, and recently the Union Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises sanctioned an amount of Rs six crore for the association to set up a community production unit.
The cottage industry of making dolls commenced when artisans, Sadashivam Velar and Sooran Velar started a clay doll manufacturing unit in the village in 1965.
The villagers who had gone to far-off places like Chennai for a living in moviesets came back and learned the intricacies of making dolls under the watchful eyes of Sadashivam Velar and Sooran Velar and each home turned into a cottage industry of making dolls.
'Bommai Kolu'( meaning doll decoration) is also popular during Ganesh Chaturthi and Navaratri, the villagers said that they do most of the business during the Christmas season.
Bhaktavalsalan, an artisan from the village, told IANS, "We were doing good business with most of the products during Christmas being sold in Kerala from where we receive good orders. However, after back-to-back floods that rocked Kerala, and the Covid-19 infection, our business has been affected and has gone abysmally low. However, we did good business this year with sales in Kerala and other Tamil Nadu districts being good. We expect to make good the losses of the past in this season and can get a final profit and loss figures by January only."
S. Kavitha, who is a doll-maker in the village, said that business has been brisk and most of the figurines have been sold out. The profit margin was reduced for brisk business and the villagers are expecting to make proper use of the money they received from the government of India through the Artisan Cooperative.