Lockdown has affected over 100 traditional artistes who supply us idols, says owner of Choza Arts Gallery

“We had stocked idols worth Rs. 8 lakhs expecting big sales during the Arubathumoovar day of Panguni festival at Sri Kapali Temple. But when the festival got cancelled due to lockdown, we lost the major business that happens for us in a year,” says M.Navin, manager of Choza Arts Gallery in Mylapore.

The shop that sells Tanjore paintings, panchaloha, and brass idols is the newest venture of Navin and his brother, who are both based in Tambaram. It opened at the junction of East Mada Street and Kapaleeswarar tank Square Street in early March. But soon it had to close down due to lockdown.

“We were at a huge loss. For the past two months, we have been finding it very difficult to pay the shop’s rent and salaries for our staff. However, we managed to pay them whatever we could, he says.

The owners procure panchaloha idols from Swamimalai, near Kumbakonam, brass idols from artistes of North India, and Tanjavur paintings from traditional artistes of Tanjavur. “There are over 100 traditional artistes who supply us the idols and paintings. But, as we were not giving them orders, the livelihood of these workers also got affected.”

However, Navin says they are helping the artists in whatever way they can.”Through the lockdown, we have been providing money for their monthly rations.”

Now, the shop plans to open in June. “We cannot expect good sales as buying paintings may not be the priority of most customers. But still, we hope business will revive and soon we would be able to get some money to earn our daily bread at least.”

Navin has also planned to have several precautions at the store. “All employees would wear masks and gloves. And customers who want to touch the idols will be provided with gloves.”

At East Mada Street, near Sri Kapaleeswarar Temple tank. Ph: 9894960142

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