Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Ganpati Idol Makers

Walk around Chinchpokli, Lalbag and Parel in Bombay during July or August (two months before Ganesh Chaturthi) and you will see lots of small and big ‘karkhane’ or workshops in every lane or as one would say in Marathi ‘gallo gallit’. All these karkhane spring up under tents with lots of plastic sheets to shelter them from the rains where craftsmen toil all day into the night making Ganpati idols of different sizes.

I visited one such ‘workshop’ where I spoke to Surve and Sutardekar who were toiling hard making the Ganpati statues. The statues are made either of ‘mati’ (Soil) or of Plaster of Paris. It takes two days to make a ‘mati’ statue and around one month to dry it. But the POP statue can be made in two hours and dries in 2 days. (They just make a mould and they can keep making many) Their workshop makes around 300-400 statues in the season, which begins 2-3 months before Ganesh Chaturthi. This year Ganesh Chaturthi falls on August 27.

Most of the craftsmen are from the Konkan area. Surve and Satardekar were from Sawantwadi and Malvan respectively. Their colleague wants to say something and they immediately taunt him in Marathi, “ Look at him, just come from the village two days ago and has already started chatting up”. Many of the craftsmen are relatives and friends who are called from their villages for additional help specifically during the season.

People also book idols according to the size and material they want used. The already booked idols have a yellow tag put on them and I could see many such yellow tags on many of the Ganpatis.

Walking down to the other side of Chinchpokli bridge, I see many Ganpati idols, which are already painted, wrapped in plastic and arranged on shelves. Samir Mangaonkar who is into the printing business owns this shop. He takes time off from his business and concentrates on Ganpati idols. He goes to Pen (Pen has the biggest Ganpati idol making industry), selects the idols, gets them transported and sells them here. He gets a license from the BMC to set up the tent.

Thus the Ganpati idol industry provides a livelihood to so many people.


The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

nice post. and has got me all nostalgic. what do these people do when they're not making ganesh idols?

Fingers said...

Interesting post, Abodh.
Ganesh Chaturthi is on August 27th? That's also the day when Mars comes closest to the Earth!

Nehash Jadhav said...

thank you for writing

Abhijit Dharmadhikari said...

sunder zalay photo-essay :-)

Anonymous said...

bolo ganpati bappa morya :)