Thursday, March 30

After Durga, Kolkata slowly warms up to theme-based Ganesh idols

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Collectors of Ganesha idols in the city will vouch for the fact that there is no dearth of themes when it comes to giving shape to the miniature versions that are commonly on display in private spaces. In the recent past, there has been a significant upsurge in the number of Ganesh Pujas in various localities of Kolkata. Huge idols stand tall at pandals but what’s striking is that Ganesh puja has largely remained untouched by the trend of theme puja.

Most artisans and collectors believe the slow interest in experimenting with the image of Ganesha idols is perhaps a result of the traditional mindset. Many draw a line between the interest of a collector and a worshipper. Collection leaves room for experimentation. Faith prefers tradition. The difference in interest for doing theme Pujas for Ganesh and Durga is explained by Indologist Nrisinha Prasad Bhaduri. He acknowledges that there have been many artistic experiments with Lord Ganesha on the canvas. “As a collector’s item, people like to treasure these idols in various shapes. But when it comes to worshipping, I guess they are more traditional. Ma Durga symbolises Shakti. So, at home, people prefer to keep the traditional idol where Ma Durga signifies that image,” he says.

Here I must mention that at home, people will not keep an image of Soshan Kali. They will prefer to worship an image of Dakshina Kali though Ma Durga has different forms and avatars that we often come across in theme-based Durga pujas,” adds Bhaduri.

However, Kolkatans are now opening up to new ideas as well. The winds of change seem to have started blowing at Kumartuli — the hub of idol-makers on the banks of the Hooghly. With Ganesha Chaturthi less than two months away, idol makers have started getting orders to mould the idols in newer shapes. If “jamaidada” — a shop owner at Kumartuli — is to be believed, last year an idol was made showing the Ganesha riding a bike. This year, no organiser has been so adventurous as yet. But then, there is still some two months to go for the festivities to begin.

The narrow bylanes of Kumartuli are yet to wear a busy look. Few idol makers have started work. Amidst the Durga idols, one can’t miss out the Ganesha idols seated on lotus. Other variations include the Bal Ganesha idols or the south Indian-styled ones. Some have begun to knead the clay to cater to more orders. The early birds are fast. They carve out the eyebrows on the face of the idol with a clay modelling scraper called ‘chiari’. Few are more gentle. They carefully brush the dust from the pot belly with sand paper.

Jayanta Pal, a popular maker of Ganesha idols, says, “We make Ganesha sitting on a lotus, Bal Ganesha and Mahadeva Ganesha. But this year, the craze for Jai Shri Ram Ganesha is high. However, there is no political connotation to it. Just as Mahadeva Ganesha signifies Ganesha in form of Lord Shiva, Jai Shri Ram Ganesha is in the form Lord Rama.”

An idol of Lord Ganesha costs anything between `5,000 and `50,000, depending on its size and design. Medium-sized idols are much in demand as many families have started performing puja at home. “Some clubs have started hosting Ganesha puja in a big way and the latest demand is that the idol should be ‘Mumbai style’. The demand for theme-based Ganesha idols is catching up, albeit, slowly,” says Swapan Pal, an artisan.

Artisan Bhabesh Pal, who is busy making Ganesha idols in Mumbai and south Indian style, admits that there are requests for idols of Ganesha that look a tad different from the conventional ones. “We are trying to cater to the demands keeping in mind the client’s budget and taste. Last year, an artisan made a Ganesha sitting on a bike. It turned out wonderful. I am certain the trend of theme Ganesh puja will catch up soon,” Bhabesh says.

Themed ganesh idols are the future: artists

Clubs that celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi will start having theme-based idols soon. Looks like they will start competing too, just like what we see during Durga Puja. But the more orthodox devotees are likely to stick to traditional idols.
— Samir Aich

Of late, Ganesh Puja has become extremely popular here. Earlier, we saw only people in Mumbai or down south celebrating it with pomp and show. I guess when it comes to worshipping Ganesha, the serious devotees go for traditional idols. However, local clubs are others are more interested in a grand celebration.                                                                                                                                                                        — Sanatan Dinda

I think gradually all these clubs that celebrate Ganesha Chaturthi will move to theme-based. But they will still need to have a traditional idol beside it for pran protistha. But those who worship the lord at their office or home, will always go for the age-old traditional idols.                                                                                  – Shuvaprasanna


Source: Times of India

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