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Christmas figurine making is a major vocation of this Tamil Village

- December 24, 2021

Chennai, Dec 24 : The village of Vilachery in Madurai is unique for its craftsmen who roll out beautiful clay and plaster of Paris figurines of Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, angels, and cattle for Christmas season. Most of the sales are for different towns of Tamil Nadu and a major chunk goes to Kerala where Christmas is celebrated in high pomp and galore.

Interestingly the figurines are made from cottage industry as each of the 300 homes of Vilachery village is a factory for making these figurines. While these craftsmen make dolls and other figures during the major festivals of Dusherra and Deepavali, Christmas is the time of the year when they do brisk business. Interestingly these artisans have unique moulds which stand them out from the rest and this has been given recognition now. The villagers are now planning to get a Geographical Indication (GI) tag for their products.

The artisans of this village are now joined together under the umbrella of Kullalar Handicraft Artisan Welfare Association and recently the Union Ministry of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises sanctioned an amount of Rs 6 crore for the association to set up a community production unit.

The cottage industry of making dolls commenced when Sadashivam Velar and Sooran Velar started a clay doll manufacturing unit in the village in the year 1965. The villagers who had gone to far-off places like Chennai for a living in movie sets came back and learned the intricacies of making dolls under the watchful eyes of Sadashivam Velar and Sooran Velar and each home turned into a cottage industry of making dolls.

Vinayakar and Navaratri ‘Bomma Kolus’ are also popular, the villagers said that they get most of the business during Christmas season. Bhaktavalsalan, an artisan from the village while speaking to BPNS said,” We were doing good business with most of the products during Christmas period being sold in Kerala from where we get good orders. However, after back-to-back floods that rocked Kerala, and the pandemic, our business has affected and has gone abysmally low. However, we got good business this year with sales to Kerala and other Tamil Nadu districts have been good. We expect to make good the losses of the past in this season and can get a final profit and loss figures by January only.”

S. Kavitha, who is a doll maker in the village said that business has been brisk and most of the figurines have been sold out. The profit margin was reduced for brisk business and the villagers are expecting to make proper use of the money they received from the Government of India through the Artisan cooperative.