Mangaluru: Seven days from today, Hindus will be celebrating their biggest feast-Ganesh Chaturthi, which this year falls on September 17- and Ravi Bhandary, owner of Ravi Arts located on Car-Street Cross road is all set to create some unique idols of Lord Ganesha. A few days the city will display colorful Ganesh idols in shops. It’s natural to wonder about how they’re made and the amount of work that’s gone into creating them. If you’re interested in finding out, it’s possible to see the statues being crafted. Where and how depends on how much time you have available, and one place in town you can witness the carving talents of these statues is at Ravi Bhandary’s business.
Idol making is big business. The skill is handed down from generation to generation, plus many experienced artists come down to Mangaluru during this time of the festival to help in the labor intensive process. It gets underway around few months before the festival takes place. Ganesh idol making industry in City is huge, especially at this time of the year. But, just how huge is huge? The figures are impressive. From hundreds to thousands of idols are made here. People from neighbouring towns, and from places as far as Hassan, Sakleshpur, Shimoga, Madikeri, and even from Kerala buy Ganesh idols from Ravi Bhandary.
The statues of Lord Ganesha are carved in more than 300 different forms and poses. They consider it as a holy mission which bring them closer to the Lord. While most of the idols are done solely by Ravi, but during occasions like these he takes help from 3-4 artisans to overcome the demand of statues for Ganesh Chaturthi. They are happy with the response they are getting in the city. These artisans are here to showcase their skills. This year, an idol depicting Ganesh with Sri Radhakrishna with peacocks on either side and another one showing him savouring ghee with Lord Krishna will be the major attractions this time. Idols sitting on lotus, cow and snake are also added to the variety of idols available during this festival season.
Ganesh idols are worshipped individually and in a collective manner on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi. But this is not the only occasion for them to earn as they were busy in making the idols of Goddess Durga and other lords throughout the year. “We are always working. We make Durga idols during Navaratri. Idols of Lord Shiva for Shivratri and idols of Lord Ganesha for Ganesh Chaturthi,” said Bhandary.
Elaborating the sequence and process of making these pious statues, Bhandary said that mainly the sculptures are made of mud and clay. But as per the new trend, the Ganesh idols are mostly made of plaster of Paris or China clay. “We prepare Ganesh idol from China clay or mud. The demand these day is for idols made from plaster of Paris. These are lighter and more attractive. There is a difference between idols made from mud and plaster of Paris, said Ravi’s assistant who was giving final touches to a 4 feet Ganesh statue.
There are references in the Puranas that Ganapati was created from grime. Hence, the artisans find it appropriate to use a Ganesh idol made of mud for ritualistic worship. It is worth mentioning here that as per the Hindu mythology, the spiritual Idols should be a seated one, not standing. Bhandary informed me about the reason why the Idols were made only in sitting position.
If a guest pays a visit to our home, we offer him a seat and not keep him standing. During Ganesh Chaturthi, we invoke Lord Ganapati, that is invite Him. One should offer Him a seat and proper hospitality. Hence for this spiritual emotion, all the statues of Ganesha are made in sitting position, said Ravi. He informed that scientifically the reason for sitting statues is due to the entire weight of the idol resting on the feet. The idol may break if it is kept in the standing position for ten consecutive days.
Making idols is a holy mission for the artisans. “Every idol-maker should be pure and spiritually inclined. He must keep one thing in mind that it is not he who is making the idol, rather it is the Lord, who is getting it done through him,” said the senior artisan. “An sculptor should have a faith that making idols is not a vocation but a holy mission. When an idol is made with faith, amidst chanting of the Lord’s name and observance of all the restrictions, it becomes more pious” Ravi added.
Already a few clients were at Ravi’s place this afternoon placing orders for Ganesh idols-Hundreds of magnificent Ganesha idols in different sizes and themes were stocked inside the shop, and some were wrapped in transparent plastic sheets. While Ravi Bhandary who could spend only a few seconds since he busy giving final touches to the idols, his wife was kind enough to give more information on their idol making business.
Their business was started by Govinda Bhandary 90 years ago, which is now run by his son Ravi Bhandary. About 70% of the idols they make are from clay, and the remaining 30% are made from Plaster of Paris, which comes ready-made from other state. The prices are bit expensive since clay is not easily available, and also it takes pretty good hours to create a clay idol. It takes an hour and a half for the artists to put in place the initial structure and then 48 hours for it to completely dry off. Then they have to be given final touches and painted, in some cases. “To make a fully completed 3 feet Ganesh idol takes 6-7 days”, said Ravi.
The prices for clay idols start from Rs 100…..Rs 1000, and the largest idol will cost around Rs 7000 to 8000. Bhandary said, ” Many of my customers are like my well-wishers, who offer me pretty good money for the idols without me even quoting them a price. Our customers are happy with our work and quality, and they keep coming back year after. Satisfying our customers is our motto, and creating quality products is our business. Most of the time we don’t fix prices for the big Ganesh idols, our regular clients fix the price”
Business is brisk for the big idols despite rising costs of inputs. Although the most wanted idols are the life-sized ones made of Plaster of Paris, but many people prefer the eco-friendly clay idols, since they easily dissolve in water which is good for the environment. So if you are looking for a clay-idol of Ganesha or a idol made of Plaster of Paris, head on to Ravi Arts, where your search for your your favourite “Ganesha” will be over. On behalf of Team Mangalorean, wish all our Hindu friends a Happy Ganesh Chaturthi well in advance.