Making Ganesha Idols a Way of Life for Vinayak Shet & Ravi Bhandary of Car Street

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Making Ganesha Idols a Way of Life for Vinayak Shet of Aditya Screen & Signs & Ravi Bhandary of Ravi Arts of Car Street, Mangaluru

Mangaluru: With Ganeshotsava being celebrated today, there is an air of festivity in the city. Take a walk through the crowded lanes and you just cannot miss the grand pandals, incandescent lights and shops displaying delicious modaks. At the heart of all the enthusiasm are Ganesh idols. Even though mostly from clay, the idols are made out of a variety of materials and decorated in vibrant colours to mark the Lord’s birthday.

Installation of colourful Ganesha idols at temples, religious centres and homes will mark the beginning of the Ganesh Chathurthi festival across the city on Wednesday 31 August 2022. There are many sculptors in the city, who create Ganesha idols to make the festival meaningful, and among them who were interacted by Team Mangalorean are Vinayak Shet of Aditya Screen & Sign and Ravi Bhandary, of Ravi Arts, both of Car Street, Mangaluru of Care popular names among them. Most sculptors prefer to make eco-friendly Ganesha idols using clay and natural colours thereby reducing the use of oil colours.

These two sculptors are among the few sculptors who do not use oil paints, plaster of paris or any other chemical substances that pollute the environment for making idols. They use eco-friendly lead-free paints to ensure that the idols do not contaminate water after it is immersed in wells and other water resources. “We are not into this job to make profit, but we are just following the tradition. It was my guru M S Kudva, who taught me making Ganesha, and I have been in this art for three decades. We only make clay idols and not the ones using POP. The finish you see in the handmade clay idols is very different.” said Vinayak.

VINAYAK SHET of Aditya Screen & Signs, Car street, Mangaluru

Vinayak Shet and Ravi Bhandary, too take measures to make eco-friendly Ganesha. Vinayak makes beautiful Ganesha idols using only water colours, which dilute in water very easily. Most of the Ganeshotsav committees, communities and family members book Ganesha idols weeks before the festival. Organisers bring the Peeta (wooden seat) of the idol at the time of booking for the idol.

Vinayak has been making idols for the past 35 years. The fact that people nowadays prefer eco-friendly Ganesh idols is an advantage for his business, he says, but that’s not what keeps him going. His motivation comes from his passion for his art and his faith in Lord Ganesha. “We are not here to make a profit but to enjoy the spirit of this festival. Me, my son Adhitya and seven other employees help in creating these Ganesh idols. My seven assistants assist me in every stage. I use natural colours for making the idols which are soluble in water. I learnt this art from my teacher MS Kudva who is a guide in clay sculpting for many. Ever since I was a child, I was fascinated about making Ganesha idols but it’s been 35 years since I started a workshop and dedicated myself to this.” said Vinayak.

“This year I’ve made quite a number of idols and most of them on prior booking. A few of them I keep for retail sale and since every household worships Ganesha traditionally and this is something the city has retained in spite of its exponential expansion and hence the demand has remained the same. It’s been four months since I started this work. From bringing, the clay moulding and painting require a great deal of patience” added Vinayak..

“Thank God we do not have people buying non-eco-friendly POP Ganesha idols like the rest of the country in the city due to which the clay Ganesha still feeds us. The plaster of Paris Ganeshas available on online websites is easy to make and consumes very less time and effort compared to the clay Ganesha. Hope Mangalureans keep the same tradition for many more years,” he says with a sigh.

From elaborate themes to engineered theatricals, Ganesh pandals in the city have plenty of stories to tell. But the peripheral arrangements aside, for those in the business of idol-making, living up to expectations and maintaining their distinct style is what gives them the edge.

RAVI BHANDARY of Ravi Arts, Car street, Mangaluru

Ravi Bhandary, owner of Ravi Arts located on Car-Street Crossroad has also created some unique idols of Lord Ganesha. 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. 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 labour-intensive process. It gets underway around a few months before the festival takes place.

The Ganesh idol making industry in the 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 brings them closer to the Lord. While most of the idols are done solely by Ravi, but, during occasions like these, he takes help from 4-5 artisans to overcome the demand for 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. “We are always working. We make Durga idols during Navratri. Idols of Lord Shiva for Shivratri and idols of Lord Ganesha for Ganesh Chaturthi,” said Ravi.

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 idols from China clay or mud. The demand these days 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 do not keep him standing. During Ganesh Chaturthi, we invoke Lord Ganapati, that is to invite Him. One should offer Him a seat and proper hospitality. Hence for this spiritual emotion, all the statues of Ganesha are made in a 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 the 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 Vinayak’s and Ravi’s place this morning picking up their Ganesha idols, among the 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 was 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 90% of the idols they make are from clay, and the remaining 10% are made from Plaster of Paris, which comes ready-made from other states. The prices are a 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 of idols vary as per the sizes. 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 year. 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. So if you have not yet bought your Ganesha idol, head on to Ravi Arts or Adhitya Screens & Signs, where your search for your favourite “Ganesha” will be over.

TEAM MANGALOREAN wishes all our Hindu friends a HAPPY GANESH CHATURTHI

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