Mathura, 2014.06.28 (DJ): Baby Gopal or Laddu Gopal deities made in Mathura district are getting ready to be worshiped around the world. They are being decorated and embellished and given such an attractive appearance that when pilgrims coming to who come to Braj in the months of Bhadra and Shravan see them, they will be charmed and won’t go home without their Thakurji.
Well before Chaturmasya starts, Braj businessmen are looking for Laddu Gopal murtis in Aligarh, Hathras, Iglas, Moradabad, and other places where they are manufactured. There they are molded and engraved, then brought to Mathura to be spruced up. This is where the polishing and painting are done. By the time the month of Sawan (Shravan, this year starting on July 21) comes around, they are sitting in shops in the bazaars, inviting the devotees to take them home with them.
Other states like Gujarat, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan have also placed their orders. Since Mathura is the place of Krishna’s birth and activities, it has also become a thriving business center for items connected to Krishna. Pilgrims visiting Braj often buy murtis and paraphernalia for puja.
The height of the season is in the two months of Shravan and Bhadra, the latter being the month in which Radha’s and Krishna’s birthdays are celebrated. Wholesale dealer Ajay Goyal said that most of their sales come in these two months. Another businessman from Delhi, Pankaj Agrawal told us that demand increases everywhere during that time, even in the nation’s capital.
The greatest demand is for brass deities. Prices can vary between Rs. 25 for a small Gopal to as much as 2000. Pewter murtis range from Rs 15 to 100 and aluminum from Rs 10 to 50.
The overall business, including both murtis and paraphernalia, is worth about Rs. 50 crore ($10 million) annually to the local economy. Although this year things slowed down a little because of the elections, most in the business are hoping that the annual average will be reached.
Competition from imported Chinese murtis is affecting the market, since the Chinese figures are becoming popular because of their better quality and lower prices. These deities are attractive to Indian consumers for one reason because of their bigger smiles.
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