Vrindavan, 2011.08.15 (AU). Preparations are being made for Janmashtami in Vrindavan’s bazaars as much as in the temples. A generally gay and festive mood is clearly setting it. In the markets of this sacred pilgrimage town, craftsmen are busy day and night in their workshops to produce brass murtis of baby Krishna, Laddu Gopal.
This year, the general increase in prices has not left the Thakur unaffected. The price of brass has gone up and so the cost of a Laddu Gopal deity has increased considerably over last year. Die cast murtis imported from Muradabad, Rampur and Aligarh are being imported to compete with the superior hand-crafted murtis made in Vrindavan itself.
These die cast images have already arrived in many of Vrindavan’s shops where they will sell at much lower prices than the hand crafted deities made in the holy town.
Hari Om Prasad, an artisan whose family has been making murtis of the Lord for several generations, said, “The price of brass was around Rs 300 a kilo in 2009-2010. This year it has gone up to around Rs 400. To make a murti of Radha or Krishna by hand takes at least two days. These will then sell for about Rs 1000 a kilo. The die cast figures from Muradabad, whether of Laddu Gopal or Radha and Krishna, are much cheaper of course.”
The murti business is thought to be worth approximately Rs 15 to 20 crores to Vrindavan’s economy every year.
Subhash Sharma, also involved in the murti trade said that the demand for handmade brass murtis of Radha and Krishna or Laddu Gopal is actually greater outside India than at home. “Whether foreign devotees or NRIs living in Europe or America, there is a distinct preference for the handmade murtis, which are artistically far superior in beauty to the mass-produced images. Who would not prefer a hand crafted deity made by a Brajvasi over a factory-made image mass produced elsewhere?”
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