Chennai, December 24 (SocialNews.XYZ) The village of Vilachery in the Madurai of Tamil Nadu is unique for its craftsmen who unroll beautiful clay and plaster of Paris figurines of Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, angels and cattle for the Christmas season.
Most of the sales go to different towns in Tamil Nadu and a large part goes to Kerala where Christmas is celebrated with great fanfare.
The figurines come from the craft industry because each of the 300 houses in the village of Vilachery is a factory for manufacturing these figurines. While these artisans make dolls and other figurines during the major festivals of Dussehra and Diwali, Christmas is the time of year when they do a booming business.
Interestingly, these artisans have unique molds that set them apart from the rest and this has now been recognized. Villagers are now planning to obtain a Geographical Indication (GI) label for their products.
The artisans of this village are now united under the aegis of the Kullalar Handicraft Artisan Welfare Association, and recently the Ministry of the Union of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises sanctioned an amount of six crore rupees for the association to put in sets up a community production unit.
The cottage industry of making dolls began when artisans, Sadashivam Velar and Sooran Velar, started a clay doll making unit in the village in 1965.
Villagers who had gone to remote places like Chennai to make a living in movie sets came back and learned the intricacies of doll making under the watchful eyes of Sadashivam Velar and Sooran Velar and every house turned into a cottage industry for making dolls.
‘Bommai Kolu’ (meaning doll decoration) is also popular during Ganesh Chaturthi and Navaratri, the villagers said they do most of the business during the Christmas season.
Bhaktavalsalan, a village artisan, told IANS: “We were doing good business with most of the Christmas products sold in Kerala from where we get good orders. However, after the back-to-back floods that rocked Kerala, and the Covid-19 Infection, our business was affected and fell to an extremely low level. However, we have done some good business this year with sales in Kerala and other districts of Tamil Nadu. We plan to repair past losses this season and can only get final profit and loss figures in January. “
S. Kavitha, who makes dolls in the village, said business was booming and most of the figurines were sold out. The profit margin has been reduced for flourishing businesses and the villagers expect to make good use of the money they have received from the Indian government through the Craft Cooperative.