By Shyam Sundar Vattam
Mysore/Mysuru: Biting cold and crib indicate the arrival of Christmas. Celebrating Christmas without the crib is unimaginable. People buy cribs, decorate it and offer prayer on Dec. 24 midnight to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
The bamboo weavers of Mysuru begin preparing the bamboo cribs from the first or second week of December in anticipation of good business. Every year, each bamboo weaver would sell around 60-70 cribs and over 100 stars of different sizes during Christmas celebrations. This time, their business has been eclipsed by COVID-19 pandemic. A large number of cribs and stars have remained unsold till today, though only three days are left for the celebration. There are no takers despite offering them at an affordable price.
Over a dozen cribs and stars are kept on footpath at the busy traffic junction of the Government School for Deaf and Dumb near Bamboo Bazaar in city, by four bamboo weavers expecting Christians to buy them. People will just see it from a distance and go away. Lack of demand is attributed to restriction on gathering of more people during Christmas to check spread of pandemic. “We are ready with cribs and stars but customers are not coming forward. This year, our ‘star’ is not good due to Corona. What can be done when the whole world is hit by pandemic,” bemoans L. Latha,
a woman in fifties who has been making cribs and stars for the last 27 years.
Never in the past, they had faced so much difficulty in pushing the sale of cribs and stars like this year. People are not coming forward to buy it despite offering huge discount. This is the only season that they would make little money by making bamboo cribs and stars but this year has proved very bad, said Latha, a resident of Bannimantap, who has married of her daughter with income from this profession, after her husband passed away a few years ago.
“I make many things out of bamboo like mora for bagina, bamboo mat, crib, star, cradle, flower basket and wall mat. We make bamboo products for birth and death. People come to us for the bamboo cradle for just born babies and bier to carry dead bodies. We celebrate Gowri and Ganesh festival by making mora and Christmas by preparing cribs and stars. But the COVID-19 hit our business badly. The closure of Christian educational institutions has hit the sale of stars. People will buy the cribs or the stars only till Dec. 22 and not after that as they will require two days to decorate it,” she noted.
She said, “with one full length (20 feet) of bamboo, they can make at least three cribs of different sizes. Each length would cost Rs. 250. A small sized crib is sold for Rs. 100 to Rs. 150. Large size crib is sold at Rs. 500. This time, there is no demand even for small cribs leave alone the big size due to restriction.” Hitherto, they were getting good quality of bamboo from Shivamogga forest and it had stopped five to six years ago. Forest Department was not helping them to get the bamboo from Assam. So, they would bring the bamboo from villages in Holenarasipura taluk of Hassan.
In the last week of December, they were selling around over 100 stars and 20-30 cribs but this time, hardly 10 stars and five cribs have been sold till date. Till last year, Christian families were placing orders in advance for cribs and stars. To meet up with demand, extra labourers were engaged to prepare and deliver it on time. “Now, we have cribs and stars but there are no buyers,” she said in a line explaining the current situation.