Of all Chennai's artisan trades, you might imagine that the temple umbrella makers are struggling to survive. Not so!
In Ayya (or Iyya) Mudali Street in the central Chintadripet neighbourhood - which is enclosed on three sides by the Cooum river - about fifteen family businesses survive. Among them is at least one with an impressive website. And both demand and prices are generally bearing up.
Don't confuse this craft with parasol making. Sure, these umbrellas are to protect from the sun not the rain. But these aren't small dainty sun shields - these are often large and ornate umbrellas, with designs and motifs specific to a particular Hindu deity or temple.
The main complaints of the temple umbrella makers are that the next generation are not interested in pursuing a livelihood passed down from father to son, and that it's difficult to find the labourers to undertake the tricky task of assembling the umbrellas' bamboo frame.
By most accounts, there's still a decent living to be made in this trade.
I came across these temple umbrella makers during a heritage walk round Chintadripet led by Padmapriya, to whom many thanks!
Andrew Whitehead's blog
Welcome - read - comment - throw stones - pick up threads - and tell me how to do this better!