Category Archives: Special Devotes of Ganesha
Lord Ganesh is here. And this year, the Ganesh festival is bringing forth astonishing tales of people’s gracious love for the Lord of Wisdom. Meet Raj Kumar Shah. Taking worship of the Vighnaharta to a whole new level, he has virtually converted his house into a temple adorning a large number of various forms of the God. Each one as exquisite as the other, the idols number well over 2,000.
A chartered accountant by profession, Shah got his first idol way back in 2004. In the past eight years, he went on adding the idols one by one carefully selected and installed. The Lord can be seen in various poses, right from one engrossed flying a kite, in a joyous mood on a swing to a one busy with a computer or musing over a move while playing chess.
The 42-year-old CA has Ganesh everywhere in his house. His house name plate has a Ganesh itched on it; even a night lamp in his porch is shaped as the Lord.
Ask him how his craze for collecting the idols took off and he says, “I have always liked to collect things. When I was young, it was greeting cards, and in the past few years, I have drawn my attention on Ganesh idols. It’s not just plain craze, it’s a question of faith that gets me emotionally involved and motivated. As such, I have never tried to calculate the value of the collection.”
Seema, his wife, assists Shah in collecting and preserving the idols. “We have specially made cabinets in silver, other metals, marble and wood, each having several sections. These are used to place the idols,” she said.
When asked where did they find the unique idols, Seema proudly says, “It’s an on-going search, wherever we go we try to bring home at least one Ganesh idol, and each time its a different shape and form.”
Shah has spent around eight years collecting the idols. Shah’s hobby has the whole family captivated now. The children are also equally enthusiastic about their father’s hobby. Son Rajat says, “I present my father with a distinctive Ganesh idol on his birthdays and other occasions. In-fact I have developed a liking for this whole idol-collection thing.”
Shah’s younger brother Rachit, 9, makes Ganesh idols with clay. “My younger son has made some Ganesh idols with playing dough. I keep them with our idol collection.” Although most of the collection has been brought from Indore, it has idols from almost every part of the country. “We have idols from Andaman, Sikkim, Kashmir, Udaipur and Mumbai,” said Seema.
Each member of the family has its own favorite pose of Ganesh. Young Rachit likes the one in which the Lord is posing as farmer with bullock cart. “My favorite is the cricketer Ganesh,” said Rajat, while Seema’s likes the one resting on a wooden cot. Raj Kumar Shah’s favorite is the one with mother Parvati.
The festive season of Ganesh Chaturthi is here. All Ganesha devotees are busy celebrating the festival through the various pandals that have been set up across the city. While this is the case with most of the devotees, there is one such ardent devotee of Lord Ganesha who has been celebrating Lord Ganesha throughout the year for almost 40 years now. A special assistant at State Bank of India by profession, Hyderabad based Pabsetti Shekhar has been collecting Ganesha idols and many other forms of Ganesha since 1973. What started over a act of devotion at a juvenile age, slowly transitioned into passion. “Every child loves Lord Ganesha. It was the same with me. During the Ganesh Chaturthi festival, I used to take immense amount of interest in selecting the idol and setting it up at home,” recalls Shekhar, adding, “I would also spend a considerable amount of time sketching and making Ganesha idols using clay.”
A collector by nature — Shekhar has a collection of coins and pot-plants — the inclination towards collecting Ganesha idols began after a trip to Shiridi in 1973.
“After I saw a Plaster of Paris Ganesha idol at the Sai Baba temple, I was inspired and decided to compile a collection of different forms of Ganesha,” he shares.
Since then Shekhar has been regularly bringing home a large number Ganesha idols, posters, key chains, books and audio/video cassettes — constituting around 30,000 form of Ganesha — out of which 12,022 are Ganesha idols. And, for this, he has travelled to various places and countries across the world. “My collection is not only from India, but also other countries like — USA, Japan, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and many others.”
Height of the idols vary from half-inch to 4.5 feet, while Shekhar has purchased some for a measly 50 paise to a whopping `50,000.
Apart from having an eclectic mix of Ganesha idols from around the world, Shekhar has also ensured that the materials used to make the idols have also been various. “The idols are made of different materials — from PoP, clay, gold and silver, to crystal, glass, marble, and many others. Apart from the ones I’ve purchased, I have also made some idols using clay, ceramic powder, m-seal, and many others,” shares Shekhar, who only believes in adding Ganesha idols to his collection, and not in the concept of immersion. “As a child, I used to get very upset when the Ganesha idol was taken to be immersed in a water body. That’s why I don’t believe in that and constantly keep adding to my collection, and not subtracting,” smiles Shekhar. His aspiration is to also keep the collection growing through the family, by involving his son in the hobby. “I wish that at least the next four generations of my family continue to follow this tradition,” he hopes.
While happy at his varied collection of his favourite deity, Shekhar has also received many laurels for his dedication and passion. His collection entered the Limca Book of Indian Records for three years — 2010, 2011 and 2012. He has also been a part of India Book of Records (2012), Unique World Records (2012), Everest World Records (2012) and Assist World Records (2012). “Now I am aiming to enter the Guinness Book of World Records,” says Shekhar confidently, who also aims to reach 1,00,000 from the almost 30,000 in his collection of idols, posters, key chains, cassettes, books and just about every other object.
Another pet project of the man is his book, titled Vishwa Vinayaka. Currently in the process of being compiled, Shekhar is on the look-out for sponsors and hopes that he can publish the book. “I have already written most of it. This book covers all the Ganesha temples in India and across the world. It also talks about the importance of Ganesha, and many other aspects of this God.” True to his devotion, he says he will use the funds generated from the sales of his book for charity.
An art teacher from Sangamner, Anil Kamble, has claimed that he has created the world’s smallest Ganesh idol. The idol is smaller than a mustard seed, approximately .68 mm in size, measured with the help of a micro meter screw gauge and a travelling microscope.
Kamble, who was recently in Pune and has done his Applied Arts and procured an arts ‘teachers’ diploma from the Abhinav Kala Mahavidyalaya, said, “The weight of the idol is 0.022 miligrams. I have not used any magnifying glass or lens while creating this idol and all body parts, including the idol’s left hand and the ‘modak’, are clearly demarcated,” he said, adding that the idol has been made using the glue M-Seal.
“25% of the proceeds will go an organisation working against female foeticide, while another 25% will go to the Sangram Mukbadhir Vidyalaya and Niwasi Matimand Vidyalaya in Saykhindi,” he said.
Amdavadis Meena and Sandeep Damre have created an eco-friendly Ganesha out of palm leaves with the help of their children Sravishta and Renesh. The couple has been making eco-friendly idols since 2000. “Ganpati festival is a good time for children to learn about climate change and global warming and the need to stop abusing the environment,” says Meena.
The couple has been making eco-friendly Ganesh using natural material like clay, leaves, flour, puffed rice, fruits and vegetables. Ganesha idols that are immersed in rivers and lakes are made mostly of Plaster of Paris (PoP) which does not dissolve in water, while the dyes and paints used on the idols release harmful substances like lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium.
“According to our ancient traditions, only plain clay was used to make Ganesha idols. However, the facts that PoP costs less and is lighter had started a different trend,” Sandeep adds.
Lord’s message: Keep politics clean
The bright Ganesha with orange-red hues at Bhimjipura Crossroads in Nava Wadaj is an eye-catcher. This idol is made of buckets, tumblers, brushes and myriad other tools which are used to clean. In fact, this Ganpati also has a washing machine!
“This year the theme is cleanliness in general and in politics in particular,” said Tushar Tapodhan, a former make-up artist and one of the brains behind the idol. Interestingly, while this Ganesha made of plastic buckets and tumblers is not exactly eco-friendly, what helps it stake a claim is the fact that the organizers will not take this idol for immersion. “We never immerse our Ganesh idols but donate it to charity. Since these are pieces of art, they are lapped up by organizations and used as exhibits in institutes. Last year we had made Ganpati on the theme of Swarnim Gujarat which was donated to the Gujarat Cancer Hospital,” said Tapodhan.
As the city gears up to celebrate Ganesha festival, an idol of the deity, made by car designer K Sudhakar from automobile parts, is being touted as a major attraction.
Sudhakar has put together gears, rings, chains, clutch plates, petrol tank, shock absorbers, headlights, wheels, silencer pipe and bearings to erect the six-and-a-half foot tall idol.
Mounted on a mechanised mouse, the idol’s head is made of headlamps, wheel and gears, while Sudhakar has used bearings for the eyes and bolts for tusks. The trunk is made of a silencer pipe, while the midriff is the petrol tank of a motor cycle. The hands are made of silencer pipes and springs and the legs of shock absorbers, while the garland is a motorcycle chain.
The idol has been put on display at the Sudha Cars Museum, the first and only handmade “Wacky Car” museum in the world, near the Nehru Zoological Park here. The initiative is a brainchild of Sudhakar, who had entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the maker of the world’s largest tri-cycle.
Sudhakar has designed about 150 cars, like “Go Karts,” “Dune Buggies,” “Wacky Cars,” “Brinjal Car,” “Camera Car,” “Cricket Ball Car,” “Shivling Car,” “Cup & Saucer Car,” “Helmet Car,” “Computer Car,” “Double Bed Car,” “Football Car,” and the list goes on.
He has recreated cars and bus models popular in the early 20th century, besides 30 different models of cycles, including the smallest bicycle in India, around six inches high.
Sudhakar has also done his bit to promote awareness on AIDS by making a motor cycle in the shape of a condom. He also made a “Cricket Ball Car” to cheer the Indian cricket team for the 2003 World Cup and a “Football Car” to commemorate the 2006 Football World Cup, held at Germany.
His creations are mostly made out of scrap. Sudhakar has given live demonstration of these vehicles to mark the traffic safety week at Tank Bund and Necklace Road in the city, for five consecutive years.
At present, he is designing an animal park, which would have life-size mechanised walking animals. Prototypes of an elephant and a wild boar has already been developed.
While most of us have built sand castles, here is an artist who scoops fistfuls of wet sand and creates beautiful sculptures. An eco-friendly Ganesha, moulded by Mysore-based sand artist Gowri MN, will be the special attraction during the Ganesha festival in Belgaum. She is busy giving finishing touches to her creation.
The Ganesha idol, 11ft tall, 20 ft wide and 25ft long, will be on show at Maratha Mandir premises for 13 days from September 18. Gowri has used three lorry loads o fsand to create the masterpiece.What made the city go in for this eco-Ganesha? Environment-related issues come to the fore every year during the festival, thanks to the chemical paints and plaster of Paris used in the idols. Environmentalists oppose immersion of such idols in water bodies. In order to create awareness among the people about eco-friendly idols, Belgaum-based organization Yash Events is introducing the sand Ganesha. Gowri, who is qualified with a diploma in mechanical engineering, has discovered her passion for the sand art just a year ago. And within this short period, she has received international recognition. She was the only woman artist who participated in the international sand art festival held at Konark, Orissa, in December 2011. During the 15-day festival, Gowri sculpted popular temples in sand and received accolades.Gowri told TOI: “I am like Ekalavya in sand art. I discovered this beautiful art online. The images I saw inspired me and I began looking up videos on the social media to understand the art better,” she says recalling how she learnt the techniques of sand art on her own. How does she go about it? She says she visualizes a picture and sculpts it in sand.
“The wet sand should be sculpted from top to bottom and the artist must be careful because one cannot go back to the top to make corrections. Sometimes sand sculptures crumble. A sand artist needs patience,” she says.Gowri was invited to participate in around eight events in the past one year across the country. She had sculpted Goddess Chamundeshwari during Mysore Dasara last year and had depicted the Mahabharata at the Lalbagh Republic Day flower show in Bangalore.
In the winding bylanes of the old city, behind the Mahatma Phule Mandai, preparations are in full swing for the upcoming Ganesh festival. The excitement at the Akhil Mandai Mandal, however, is of a different kind. Today, 118 years ago, the idol was first installed on the premises of the temple located near the Mandai. And it is here that Sangeeta Vedpathak has been continuing another tradition — that of painting the idol.
Following in her father’s footsteps, Sangeeta has been painting the idol of Lord Ganesha every year for the last 13 years. “My father did this for almost 50 years. I do not know who painted the idol before he started. But we have been doing it for over 60 years now,” she says.
The idol itself has stood the test of time. Over the years, the temple authorities have tried to install a new one in its place only to see the latter either develop cracks or break. “They then installed the old idol. Every year, I paint the idol afresh,” she says.
Repainting the idol is a three-step process. “First, we remove the existing colours. The idol is then given a white coat and then painted,” Sangeeta says. “The idea is to make the idol seem as realistic as possible. Since my father’s time, the main task has been to make the statue seem lifelike, so devotees feel a connect with the deity.”
For Sangeeta, painting the idol is a matter of three weeks and a half. “I work with the agriculture department. My husband Vivek and son Pratik also help me while I work on the statue. It’s wonderful to see people appreciate my efforts,” she says. Even the colours that are used for the painting correspond with the ones that are used during the major puja. “Giving it a fresh coat not only preserves the statue but also gives it a new look every year,” she adds.
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.
While Ganesh festival brings to the fore the cooperative spirit among different communities in Hubli-Dharwad, it also provides an opportunity for artisans to showcase their talent by creating idols depicting Lord Ganesh in myriad forms.
The artisans start their work almost five months ahead of the festival. There are scores of them in the twin cities.
However, only a few are sought after by Ganesh mandals for making big idols. Among them is an artisan from Kolkata, Appu Pal. Though many artisans have shifted to plaster of Paris, he continues to make idols out of clay.
A native of Krishnanagar near Kolkata, Mr. Pal’s association with the Ganesh festival in the city began about 18 years ago when he came to visit a relative. That visit turned out to be the beginning of a long association, with the city becoming a principal business centre for him.
Mr. Pal, fondly known as the “artist from Kolkata”, camps in Hubli every year for a few months before Ganesh and Navaratri celebrations with his team of artisans and returns to his native after the idols have been delivered to clients.
Mr. Pal and his team specialise in making beautiful gigantic idols, which are also light as bamboo, sheaf of hay, clay and silt from Hooghly river go into their making.
For this reason, his clientele has been growing over the years. During the camps in Hubli, his schedule is hectic. “My work starts at 8 a.m. and sometimes goes on till 2 a.m. as the festival nears,” he said.
Though he makes smaller idols as well, his prefers to take orders for big idols as they are less complicated.
The prime reason for the rise in demand is the eco-friendly material used in the making of idols. As a result, the idols dissolve soon after immersion. The variety and finesse of Mr. Pal’s idols have given his team an edge over other artisans. As the whole exercise has been rewarding too, he returns to Hubli year after year.
People K. Muralidhar excels in art that is eco-friendly
In a small unassuming place on Picket Road, Secunderabad, K. Muralidhar is immersed in moulding a clay Ganesha. A bunch of women and children file around him and look on with awe. In his small gallery-studio, you can stand testimony to K. Muralidhar’s creative genius as he works on sculptures based on the Warli and Chattisgarh tribes.
Ahead of the Vinayaka Chaturthi, Muralidhar is conducting a free-workshop teaching how to make a Ganesha out of eco-friendly clay. He has encompassed all areas of oil painting, glass and fabric painting, murals, sculptures, pottery, clay paintings and other decorative items.
One can see that he has a penchant for making art out of everyday ‘waste’. He believes that art is a constant cycle of learning and adapting, and hence in his journey to learn more he has mixed, matched and experimented a lot. Muralidhar has invented a special type of clay.
He calls it the eco-friendly clay which is a mixture of recycled material like — Multani mitti, cotton and wood powder. “Natural and herbal ingredients make it soft, lightweight and unbreakable,” he says. He pauses and tends to the Ganesha he is moulding. He picks a stone and gets on his craft. He peers in and rubs his palms to soften the dough. In a matter of minutes, the Ganesha’s head, torso, feet and the mouse are ready.
He then takes a pen’s refill and dots eyes and with a blunt knife scrapes out ears and makes the creases in his dhoti. Soft detailing, works wonders, he says. “ It’s all about the clay,” says Muralidhar.
He says that it can give art a 3D effect and can be used on any surface — canvas, bottles, pvc pipes, thermocol and cardboard. The clay he says takes about two hours to dry, upon which you can use vegetable and food dyes.
Having dabbled in all kinds of art — oil, sculptures, murals, glass painting, fabric art and watercolours, K. Muralidhar likes best to go back to clay painting and hopes to create art out of ‘waste’.
Mould the clay
Want to try this art for yourself? You can get in touch with artist K. Muralidhar on 9866572242 or at his studio in Picket, Secunderabad. E-mail him email@example.com. The workshop is free, but to take the materials home, the price is Rs. 100