Dressed in vibrant colours — a yellow or peacock-coloured dhoti and an equally colouful stole — Ganesha idols are a visual treat for devotees during the Ganpati festival.
Making the idols look beautiful with their aesthetic sense of fashion are dress designers specifically hired to cater to the demands of mandals.
Among those flooded with offers during the festival are Rupesh Pawar, Avinash Koli, Prakash Lahane and Kishor Pawar. The quartet dresses up around 200 Ganpati idols in Mumbai and Konkan. They said some mandals want the idols to sport a different costume every day. Most of the idols are 8 to 24 feet tall.
Pawar, a resident of Lalbaug, has been designing costumes for Lalbaugcha Raja, Mumbai’s favourite deity, for two decades. He also dresses up more than 60 other idols, some of which are sent to Konkan.
“I became known because of Lalbaugcha Raja and a lot of mandals started approaching me. Most organisers now demand a special costume for their idols. Some mandals want costumes while taking the idol to the mandal while others expect me to change the costume every day. Though I have appointed people to help me, I cannot accept all orders because of the vast number of requests,” Pawar told DNA.
He said it takes four hours for him to make a set of clothes for the Lalbaugcha Raja. “I start work two months before the festival. The mandal lets me choose the colours for the costumes, including the stole.”
A 20-foot-tall idol needs 38 metres of cloth for the dhoti, nine metres for the stole and six metres for the waist belt. Usually, the designers use satin silk or Japanese silk for the costumes. The cost of a costume ranges between Rs5,000 to Rs6,000.
“Apart from dressing up the tallest idol, a 24-foot Ganpati for Tulsiwadi Sarvajanik mandal, I make clothes for 300 small idols which are brought home. Fifteen mandals ask me to change the idol’s costumes daily while 25 others want them on the first day of the festival,” Koli said.
“I visit the mandals late at night with a family member to change the costume. I also make costumes for idols in Gujarat and Bangalore,” said Koli, who has a workshop in Kalachowkie.
Commercial artist Prakash Lahane has been dressing up idols for seven years. “Every year, I get around 30 orders. Sometimes, I have to design clothes as per the mandal’s request. My main focus is on designing clothes for the Chinchpoklicha Chintamani, one of the most famous and tallest idols in the city. It gets hectic as I am constantly running from one mandal to another during the festival,” Lahane said.
Pawar says there has been a significant increase in the number of people approaching him to dress up Ganpati idols. “So far, I have got requests from 25 mandals for tall idols and over 100 for small Ganpatis which are brought home,” he said.