Ananta Tilwalkar, artisan

I have been working on the sets for Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati for over 30 years. I first got a job on the payroll, through a friend. I have always worked with wood — cutting, polishing, drilling, painting — it gives me joy; especially when I’m doing it for Ganpati.

Our instructions are clear: we have a set designer, who designs the year’s theme, and chalks out the plans. We are then assigned work in parts. The actual construction of sets starts around April. We have to start six months in advance. We work in shifts at the workshop near Sarasbaug from 7 am to 9 pm every day. Most of the artisans have been with us for over 10 years. There is very good camaraderie among us. We don’t even wear footwear when we are working on the frame where bappa will be seated.

Apart from work on the sets, I work in furniture shops and factories, as and when work comes to me. But this is the most fruitful season for me.

Subhash Sarpale, florist

I have been associated with the Dagdusheth temple for more than seven years now. I still remember my very first assignment for the Dagdusheth. It was over seven years ago, and I was to decorate the rath that brought the very first all-silver idol of Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati. Tatyasaheb Godse was so impressed with my work that he called me and asked me to decorate it for the Ganesh Chaturthi as well.

Since then, I have been decorating the pandal, the original temple, the idol as well as the chariot with flowers. I try to be original and creative each year, and with God’s grace haven’t repeated any design. The chariot is especially tricky. A few years ago we had made an all-flower chariot with two gigantic flower peacocks in the front. Since the flowers are so delicate and droop after a while, we have to work very quickly as well as efficiently.

Apart from the Ganeshotsav, I decorate the Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati for other occasions such as Sankashti, Chaturthi, Angarki, Diwali, Dussehra and other festivals.

We import flowers such as orchids, carnations and roses from Singapore and Thailand. We also bring a lot of flowers from Karnataka, especially Bangalore. Apart from the orders from Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati, I have a shop in Shukrawar Peth, from where we sell flowers throughout the year.

Rajesh Sakla, benefactor

God has given a lot to me, and I like to give back as much as I can. I have been providing the flooring for the Dagdusheth pandal for over 12 years now. We only use the finest flooring tiles — the same ones that we use in our construction business, for flats and offices — such as Italian marble and granite, among others. Every year, during the Ganeshotsav, I take half-a-month off from work and personally supervise the ongoing work here. It gives me great pleasure and peace of mind.

But there is my swarth (selfish interest) in all of this as well. After the Ganeshotsav, we take back the tiles and use them in our buildings, for flats and offices. Just imagine, thousands of people come to see bappa each year. They chant holy slogans and think good thoughts. I’m sure that the positive energy goes into these tiles. So when I place them in flats and offices, our customers also feel the good vibrations. It is a circle.