In the quaint villages of Bagerhat, a centuries-old tradition of crafting clay idols is facing a crisis as artisans find themselves at a crossroads, torn between the intergenerational skill they hold dear and the economic hardships that accompany it.
The once-thriving profession, passed down through generations, now finds itself at odds with the rising costs of materials, leaving artisans to contemplate alternative paths that may be more financially rewarding to sustain their families.
Milan Pal, an artisan from the historic Kathigomti village in Bagerhat's Sadar Upazila, expressed the sentiment shared among his fellow artisans.
"Despite a rich heritage of crafting idols that spans our familial lineages, the monetary value of our work has not kept pace with the rising cost of living," he said.
Milan Pal is now looking to leave the occupation for good.
The financial remuneration from idol-making, once a source of pride, has dwindled, and artisans like Milan Pal find themselves grappling with the harsh reality that their craft can no longer adequately support their families.
Sudev Pal, another skilled artisan from the same village, shares a similar tale of hardship.
"Compelled by circumstances to follow in my grandfather's venerable footsteps, I entered a profession once celebrated but now undervalued in today's society," he said.
The lack of recognition and financial security has left him disillusioned; now he is looking for an alternative livelihood that can provide stability for his family, he added.
With preparations underway in full swing for the grand celebration of this year's Durga Puja with 652 puja mandaps spread across the 9 upazilas in the district, the district and police administrations have given assurances of stringent security measures.
Niloy Kumar Bhadra, President of Bagerhat District Puja Celebration Parishad, expressed a sense of anxiety among organizers regarding the festival's proceedings.
He said that comprehensive security measures have been implemented. In an effort to safeguard the celebrations and ensure security, the artisans have formed their own security forces with volunteers, and CCTV cameras will be strategically installed for each mandap.
Superintendent of Police Abul Hasnat Khan outlined a three-tier security plan, with particular attention given to 216 puja mandaps.
Meanwhile, Bagerhat District Commissioner Khalid Hossain assured that maximum security measures would be in place to guarantee a peaceful and festive Durga Puja.
"Control rooms will be operational in each upazila, and a joint effort involving law enforcement forces and Executive Magistrates will maintain vigilance," he said.
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