The ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus has brought added worry to the potters, especially earthen toy makers in Pirojpur, as the items made for sale during the Baishakhi fair will remain largely unsold due to ban on gatherings to check the infection.
Keeping in view the traditional fair marking the Bangla New Year, potters have made different types of earthen items including toys of birds, animals and fruits and earthen pots used to keep saved money.
"Usually two months before Baishakh, we start making different earthen items including toys. After burning, we colour the toys a few days before the fair," said Shambhu Nath Paal, a potter at Palpara in Pirojpur town.
"But this time, we have piled up the burnt clay items at different places as there is no hope of selling them in coming weeks," he added.
Usually a potter can sell the products worth Tk 30,000 to Tk 50,000 this season but now they are facing a tough time.
"To manage the investment money including the cost of raw materials, many potters have to take loan from others as they make a good number of toys with hope to get better profit. This year we will have to face untold sufferings if we cannot sell the toys," said Suvash Paal, another potter of the same area.
During this season every year, women at the potters' houses remain busy in colouring toys till the day before Pahela Baishakh as the fair sees huge sale of the items.
Besides, wholesale buyers from different areas come to buy the items from Palpara a few days before the festival.
But this year, no buyer has contacted them due to the adverse situation amid the outbreak of coronavirus, said local toymakers.
"With the passage of time, the taste of people has changed and demand of earthen products has decreased. During the recent years, our production cost has also increased but the prices of earthen items have not increased proportionately," said Namita Rani Paal of the area.
"Most of the potters have switched to other professions but some of the traditional potter families in our area still depend on the trade. During this time, we remain busy giving the finishing touches to the toys as people buy different earthen items during yearly Boishakhi fair. But now we are passing idle time as there will be no fair," she said.
Matilal Paal, a local at the potters' neighbourhood in Pirojpur town, has demanded that the government give compensation to the potters to help them survive during the crisis period.