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An Orissa village known for its copper snakes
Gudbehipur | July 01, 2007 7:19:54 PM IST
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Gudbhelipadar Village in Orissa's Bouda District is today known for its dozens of coppersmith families who have gained popularity for their copper snakes used in different parts of the country.

Each of these over forty families takes pride in the fact that it has been successful at carrying forward a legacy despite all odds. Irrespective of financial crunch and no support from the local government agencies, the families here lead a content life.

These coppersmith families belong to Maharana caste and locally known as "Meher". They have been involved in this work of making copper snakes since ages. All these years, these families have cherished a dream to keep the ancestral art alive.

Rajesh Sahu, one of the artists said: "All our forefathers were involved in this work. We have learnt it from them and since then we are doing it. We earn our livelihood by doing this work. The Government has not provided any help in marketing our products. We do not get any loan to expand our activities. Department of Handicrafts is also not helping us."

Praful Kumar, another artisan, said: "First, we cut the copper sheet in different body parts of snake, we heat them up. After that, we bend the copper from where we want to and at that time we need lead. We bend it using lead and give it final look."

Snakes prepared in this village have been placed in various famous temples. Besides various parts of Orissa, these snakes are sent to various places like Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and various places in Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.

But these coppersmith families are perturbed to see the consistently rising cost of goods required for their art. They work tirelessly but often failed to draw equally handsome returns as per labour involved.

Most of these Meher families admit that to sustain on modest incomes is now very difficult.

Prashant Kumar, another artist, said: Despite our repeated appeals, nobody is paying attention to our condition. Nobody is coming to us. They are not even doing unification of any cooperative society. Once government agency starts buying our goods directly, we can save a lot of money. On the other hand, the rates of copper and lead have gone high."

But despite all odds, these coppersmith families are happy to think that the copper snakes made by them are used at various temples on the Shivaling (the phallic symbol). (ANI)

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