Prints made by Phoolkali on canvas using her feet are now part of a selling art exhibition being held in New Delhi, with the works being priced between Rs. 9,000 and Rs. 1.5 lakh.
Proceeds from the sale of the show titled “Ganpati to Gajah” would go to elephant conservation in India as well as to the non governmental organisation Wildlife SOS, which is engaged in rescuing and rehabilitating animals.
“Phoolkali is a very gentle elephant. She is nearly 50-years-old and blind in one eye. She was used for begging and for various shaadi-baarat (wedding) processions by her previous owner. It took us a year and a half to condition her and build her trust for humans,” says Wildlife SOS co-founder Kartick Satyanarayan.
Mr. Satyanaryan says his team found Phoolkali in a windowless abandoned warehouse tied up in chains in 2012. Vets and various animal handlers worked with Phoolkali for some time and “she soon began accepting bananas and other treats given to her”, says Mr. Satyanaryan.
Singapore-based artist Alpana Ahuja, who has been creating paintings based on Ganesha, the elephant god, teamed up with the wildlife NGO last year to work on their annual calendar.
“After that project we decided to do something else. That was the beginning of the Padchin (Footprints) series,” says the artist.
Working with Phoolkali, teaching her how to play with colour, says Ms. Ahuja, is time consuming and requires a lot of patience. “She has to be given frequent treats like bananas and sugarcane,” says the artist.
“In the beginning we started spending time with her and her mahout. Slowly and slowly she accepted us, I must say here that she is moody. However, then we used to put colours on her feet and now see how beautifully she does it,” says Ms. Ahuja.
The artist says she first prepares the bases, makes a film of the prints made by Phoolkali and then places the prints on the canvas.
“I am passionate about animals and have been working for their various causes. This exhibition is my first solo in Delhi but I have previously created special art pieces in Singapore. The artworks from ‘Padchin’ series were showcased there earlier this year,” says Ms. Ahuja. The series is a mix of works created by Ms. Ahuja and the elephant Phoolkali.
Mr. Satyanarayan recalls how he had come to know about Phoolkali.
“When our team spotted her first she was in a very bad and neglected condition. We approached her owner and offered him money in exchange of the elephant. He was hesitant initially but accepted it. When we returned a few days later both the owner and the elephant were missing.” says Mr. Satyanarayan.
Finally he says Phoolkali was discovered in a warehouse next to the Agra-Mathura highway.
“Phoolkali did not know any kindness from humans. Now she is adjusting and has even made friends with other elephants at Elephant Care and Conservation Centre in Mathura. Phoolkali’s best friend is Maya, who often plays with her by throwing mud and water,” says Mr. Satyanarayan.
“Elephants are as endangered as the tigers, we need to set up more elephant sanctuaries and save them,” says Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi who inaugurated the exhibition last Friday.
It’s the only Bappa (Ganesha) in the Diamond City for whom devotees have to take a prior appointment for darshan. Even the location of this Ganesha idol is a top secret because it is a natural rough diamond in the shape of Ganesha which is valued in crores.
Owned by Kanubhai Asodaria, chairman of Karam Group of Mahidarpura, the 182.53 carat rough diamond was mined somewhere in Africa.
The yellowish grey diamond is approximately 48 mm high, 32 mm wide and 20mm thick. It weighs 36.50 grams.
Devotees seeking its darshan have to call up Kanubhai’s office and are given the time and date while the venue is disclosed at the last moment.
Kanubhai told TOI, “It is a priceless blessing in the form of diamond showered on us by Lord Ganesha himself. The darshan can be had only during Ganesha puja days. Only one natural diamond Ganesha exists in this world. I keep it in the safe vault throughout the year at an undisclosed location.” Kanubhai found this diamond 12 years ago when he had gone to Antwerp to purchase rough diamonds.
Bhopalites will be able to have a ‘darshan’ of the famous and much-revered ‘Lalbaug Raja Ganesh’ of Mumbai in at least two places in the city during the ‘Ganesh Utsav’, which begins on August 29.
Talking to ‘Free Press’, Secretary of the ‘New Market Vyapari Sangh, Ganesh Utsav Samiti’ Nanak Singh Dua said “We have decided to install a replica of the idol of Lalbaug Raja Ganesh’ this time. The Pandal will be based on the theme of the popular Kankeswar temple of Kolkata. The decoration of the Pandal will also be a major attraction for the visitors”.
He added that “The eco-friendly idol is being prepared using the soil of Bhopal by artists from Kolkata. The idol will be 9-foot high and would weigh 600 kgs. Thirty-fiveworkers from Kolkata are making the Pandal. We have bought four truck-loads of Assam bamboo for the Pandal. Besides, cotton cloth and jute items are being used”.
“We have been organising Ganesh puja for the last 18 years. Last year, we made a tableau based on the theme of the Uttarakhand tragedy. The Pandal and idol will together cost us Rs 7.5 lakh. The cost of the idol alone is Rs one lakh. Last year, our total expenditure was Rs six lakh”, said Dua.
But New Market is not the only place where the famous Ganesh idol of Mumbai would be replicated.
“For the first time, we are installing an idol of Lord Ganesh based on the pattern of Lalbaug Raja Ganesh’ of Mumbai but its name would be ‘Kolar Ke Huzur’ because this area comes under the Huzur constituency The idol is being made in Bhopal by artists from Kolkata”, said Abhishek Saini, President of ‘Kolar Haat Vayapari SanghGanesh Utsav Samiti’.
“Besides the idol, decoration and lighting will also be a major attraction. The height of the Pandal will be 30 feet.
Dinesh Agrawal ‘Dada Bhai; former, President of ‘Bhopal Hindu Maha Utsav Samiti’ said, “Dol Gyaras Utsav Samiti has been installing the idol of Lord Ganesh for the past many years at Peepal Chowk in the old city. It is the first place in Bhopal where the idol of Lord Ganesh was installed. Therefore, it is also known as ‘Bhopal Ke Pratham Shri Ganesh Raja’. The idol and Pandal are the same every year.”
“Chhapan Bhog is offered to lord Ganesh. Ladoos (sweets) are used for Havan”, he added.
GSB Seva Mandal, the richest mandal in the city, has got an insurance of Rs 259 crore. Considering that the King’s Circle mandal keeps its idol for five days, that works out to Rs 51.7 crore a day, which is probably needed since the amount of gold on the idol itself is worth Rs 22 crore.
The insurance, done by a nationalised insurance company, is the highest for any mandal in the city, outdoing even the Lalbaugcha Raja, which is the city’s most popular and is insured for Rs 51 crore. GSB’s insurance covers the idol, gold, mandap and devotees from threats such as fire, terrorist attacks and even riots.
The insurance cover begins from the first day of the festival and does not end till the trustees lock up the idol’s gold ornaments safely into a bank’s lockers on the last day. The idol is decked in gold jewellery from the first day, right up to the immersion. Just before the immersion, the gold is taken off the idol and kept safely until the next year.
“We floated a tender and only nationalised insurers were allowed to participate. We do not bring in private players and don’t disclose the premium amount, but it is in lakhs. The insurance of the mandal is to the tune of Rs 258.9 crore,” said senior trustee Satish Nayak of the GSB mandal.
Going by the Rs 12 lakh premium that the Lalbaugcha Raja mandal paid for an insurance of Rs 51 crore, it can be assumed that the GSB mandal must have paid a premium of at least Rs 50 lakh.
A senior manager of an insurance company said, “The premium for the insurance of a mandal cannot be calculated like a normal policy. Normally, for a policy of Rs 2 crore, the premium goes up to Rs 2.5 lakh, but mandals function differently.
They are insured for fire, terrorist activities, a specific number of devotees and other such things. The premium for Rs 259 crore will easily be more than half a crore, but even this would be guess work.”
Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the biggest festivals celebrated all over India. Not only is this festival celebrated in temples and pandals but also at homes. Many people place Ganapati idols in their house to celebrate this festival. Many interesting rituals are associated with Ganesh Puja. Every family or community has its own rituals for Ganesh puja.
But there are some rituals that are common for everyone. Ganesh Chaturthi is not a one day festival. It goes on for 10 days of festivities. You can choose to keep Ganesha in your home for 1 and half days, three days, five days, seven days or nine days. Here are some of the most basic Hindu rituals associated with Ganesha puja.
Placing The Idol
First of all, the idol of Ganesha has to be placed on a high pedastal that serves as his throne. The kids in the family usually decorates the area surrounding the Ganesh pedastal. You can use flowers and colourful papers to decorate the idol. You can also make crafts like caves, fountains etc to make your Ganesha idol look attractive.
After placing the idol, the next ritual of Ganesha puja is to sprinkle holy Gange waters on the idol and do the ‘pranpratishtha’. This is the ‘life installing’ Hindu rituals are performed with the help of Vedic mantras.
Riddhi n Siddi
Many families choose to keep the two wives of Ganesha ‘Riddhi’ and ‘Siddhi’ along with him. These two women are also worshiped along with Ganapati during the 9 day festivities.
Aarti is the most important ritual associated with Ganesha puja. Aarti is basically a collection of songs that are sung in praise of Ganesha. All the family members gather together in the morning and evening and sing praises of the elephant lord. A plate with an oil lamp is moved in circular motion in front of the idol the aartis are sung.
Modaks n Ladoos
Ganesha is a Hindu God with a very good appetite. And he has a special weakness for sweets. That is why, Ganesha’s favourite sweets ladoos and modaks are offered to him on Ganesh Chaturthi.
The Bitter Modak
During the aarti, modaks are offered to Lord Ganesha. One of the modaks in the plate is made with a bitter filling purposely. When the sweets are distributed, the one who gets the bitter modak is supposed to have a lucky year ahead.
The last ritual of Ganesha puja is visarjan or immersion. While Ganesha idols are taken to the nearest water body to do visarjan, the young people play with gulaal. They also sing and dance to bid adieu to Lord Ganesha. These are some of the lively rituals associated with Ganesha puja.
Hundreds of devotees performed ‘puja’ in Ganesh temples and to idols installed at specially decorated ‘pandals’ or makeshift platforms erected by various neighbourhood and traders’ associations.
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan and his wife performed ‘puja’ to the huge idol installed at Khairatabad near Raj Bhavan, the official residence of the governor.
A large number of devotees including VIPs made a beeline for worship at over 50-feet-long idol, the tallest in the city, at Khairatabad.
The governor said he prayed for the happiness and prosperity of people of both the Telugu states.
This is the first Ganesh Chaturthi after bifurcation of the state. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu offered puja at Telugu Desam Party (TDP) headquarters in Hyderabad. He wished for the well-being and development of people of both the states. TDP leaders from both the regions greeted Naidu.
According to Bhagyanagar Ganesh Utsav Samithi, over 50,000 idols have been installed in and around Hyderabad for the 11-day long festival this year. This is in addition to small idols installed in apartments and individual houses.
The idols of different sizes, shapes, colours and in myriad forms have been installed on streets in major markets and residential localities across twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
Hundreds of trucks and smaller vehicles were seen carrying the idols from Dhoolpet area to their destinations. The devotees were doing the last minute shopping for marigold flowers, leaves and other materials for puja.
The sweet shops and the supermarkets were also teeming with people, buying sweets and groceries for the festival.
Police have made massive security arrangements for the festival, especially in the communally sensitive old city. Over 15,000 policemen and paramilitary personnel have been deployed in the state capital.
The festival will conclude with a mammoth procession Sep 8 when thousand of idols will be immersed in Hussain Sagar Lake in the heart of the city.
The festival also began in other parts of Telangana with people installing idols at homes and on streets.
The festival is celebrated on a massive scale in Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana but is a low-key affair in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.
You know Delhi has officially adopted the tradition when what is arguably the biggest, grandest, Ganpati Puja in the city, is organized by a group which has just one bona fide Maharashtrian in it. The Raja Lalbagacha Ganpati Mahotsav?Delhi’s version of it?is being held on a grand scale. It covers 10,000 square feet of Netaji Subhash Place Ground; has an idol that’s 14 feet tall and set on a six-foot high stage; and, according to its organizers, was visited by over 10,000 worshippers on the first day. Festivities will continue till September 8.
“We wanted to welcome Ganpati in the north as well,” explains Rajesh Gupta, secretary of the trust and mela mantri. “And most of those visiting are Delhiites.” There are few Maharashtrians where the mahotsav is being organized, concedes Gupta?himself a Delhiite?but adds that the team has informed Marathi groups in other parts of the city?east and south in particular?and people are visiting.
There’s ?modak’?a sweet dumpling served as Prasad ?for everyone. There are cultural programmes every evening and Gupta promises the best of Delhi’s performers. Actors from the television series, Bharat Ka Veer Putra?Maharana Pratap, will visit. It’s hard to organize a do of this scale on the first attempt; most of the trust members are seasoned organizers of such religious festivals. Gupta himself is involved in organizing Ramlilas.
This is not the only non-Maharashtrian group to organize a Ganpati festival in the city. “Over the last few years, there has been an increase in the participation of non-Maharashtrians. Many small traders’ associations organize their own festivals,” observes Yashpal Mhaskar who is associated with a number of Ganpati festivals across the city and also runs a website that keeps track of the number of mandals?and Marathis?in Delhi.
There are ones organized by members of the community at Anandvan Society (Pashchim Vihar), Datta Vinayak Mandir (Janakpuri), Vitthal Mandir (RK Puram), Anand Vihar (organized by Purvanchanl Maharashtra Mandal), Naya Bazar and Karol Bagh. “There are about 50-60 Ganpati utsavs organized across the city,” says Mhaskar. There is a state-sponsored Ganpati Utsav that’s organized at Maharashtra Sadan on Copernicus Marg every year.
While there were rumours that Salman Khan would be giving Ganesh Chaturthi a miss this year, the Kick star has made sure that he and his family celebrate Ganpati even in his absence
Salman Khan might have skipped the Ganpati festival this year, but his sisters Alvira and Arpita have made sure that they stayed up to the reputation of their Ganpati decoration and have gone all out in making sure they put up a great show!
Bollywood stars were seen heading to Galaxy, Bandra the residence of Salman to get a quick darshan of Lord Ganesha who sits at his house for a day and a half. Last year the venue was shifted to his sister Alvira’s building due to on going renovation work in his house.
It is customary to take the darshan of his Ganpati and get some yummy Prasad that the family distributes. Ladoos and pedas from the best mithaiwala in town are sourced and all devotees go back home with a box in hand! Apart from that there are also other yummy delicacies and food stuff like chaat that is provided to keep the guests entertained during their stay.
We shall give you a first hand report of all the stars who visited Salman’s Ganpati and those who skipped it !