Photo Essay – The Making of the Ganpati Idols

15 Sep

Presently, the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is being celebrated in full swing in many parts of India. During this festival idols of Lord Ganesha are brought home or to common community pandals, worshipped for 1.5 – 10 days (depending on the number of days that anyone has decided to keep them) and then, amidst major fanfare, immersed in the sea. Ganpatis are everywhere at this moment in houses, streets, colonies, temples, and you hear the artis and music whenever you pass one.

But have you ever wondered how they are made? I always did and this year I decided to visit some Ganpati workshops and understand the entire process.Β I loved this entire workshop walk as I saw so many idols (in all shapes, sizes, colors) in a single place, that it was just mind boggling. I saw idols in the form of Krishna, Shiva, Hanuman, RK Laxman’s common man, sitting on a bird, on a swing, etc etc. It was like being in a Ganpati candy store πŸ™‚

Ganpati with a peacock feather background

Ganpati with a peacock feather background

For this workshop walk, I found 2 willing office employees (who live in that area and volunteer with Ganpati pandals) who consented to act as our guides. They escorted us through multiple workshops and we saw many ganpatis in various stages of completion. There were an immense variety of idols Β such as small to large sizes, different shapes, vibrant colors and designs. And below, I have summarized the entire process of how this scared god comes to life for millions of devotees across India.

1. The construction of new Ganpatis (for the next year) starts pretty much immediately after one years’ Ganpati festival is over. The process starts when idol designers start sketching ideas for new idols. Β These designs are then collated in a catalogue and various pandal owners select and place orders for their idols. At times these orders are placed 6 – 8 months in advance. And based on the orders, different casts are made. There is a different cast for the face, hands, feet, stomach and additional accessories.

Casts for a new idol. This one is for the face, notice the trunk.

Casts for a new idol. This one is for the face, notice the trunk.

2. Based on each design, these various parts are then assembled to form a single idol. Some idols are so large that they need scaffolding for artists to be able to work on them.

The assembled idol

The assembled idol

3. These idols are then spray painted for the base tone color of the skin, clothes etc.

Idols receiving the first shade of color

Idols receiving the first shade of color

Idols receive color based on their designs

Idols receive color based on their designs

4. Β And then the new tools of the trade come into play i.e. the colorful paints and palettes –

The tools of the trade :)

The tools of the trade πŸ™‚

5. Based on the designs, theme etc each idol receives its detailing and accessorizing. Each aspect has a single specialist who just paints that element – eyes are painted by the eye expert, ornaments by the ornament expert, etc etc.

The ornaments and symbols are painted

The ornaments and symbols are painted

6. Then clothes are draped on the idol,

Clothes are draped on the idol

Clothes are draped on the idol

in some cases, laces are added as trimmings to the clothes,

Lace trimmings added to the clothes of the idol

Lace trimmings added to the clothes of the idol

And for some idols, real accessories are added.

Accessorizing the Idol

Accessorizing the Idol

7. Along with the idols various other accessories are made of – Ganeshji’s mouse, the backgrounds, the modaks, cushions etc are Β made and assembled along with each idol.

The mice and modaks

The mice and modaks

8. This entire process takes anywhere between 3 – 4 weeks and the final touches on every idol are given based on the buyers requests. And once the entire idol is assembled and complete, its all set to go home πŸ™‚ We saw one idol that was going to a jail. Yes, this festival is celebrated in jails too πŸ™‚

Completed Idols :)

Completed Idols πŸ™‚

Completed Idols all set to go home :)

Completed Idols all set to go home πŸ™‚

Have you ever had an opportunity to visit any Ganpati workshops? If yes, do share your thoughts on the same below or tweet at traveler_budget.

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18 Responses to “Photo Essay – The Making of the Ganpati Idols”

  1. Rajesh September 16, 2013 at 00:26 #

    Wow…so much goes in the back? nice to know

    Like

    • getsetandgo September 22, 2013 at 09:57 #

      Thanks Rajesh. Yah, it’s a lot of work πŸ™‚

      Like

  2. Harsha September 16, 2013 at 00:52 #

    Lovely Post with great details.. πŸ™‚

    Like

  3. corneliaweberphotography September 16, 2013 at 08:41 #

    That is so interesting, for us in the western culture, thank you so much for sharing!

    Like

    • getsetandgo September 22, 2013 at 10:00 #

      Thanks Cornelia, there are numerous such interesting sights, festivals and colors in India. I am hoping to capture and share as much as possible about my beautiful country πŸ™‚

      Like

  4. i*Kan September 16, 2013 at 08:49 #

    Interesting! I just did a post on Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations… we always get an idol home, but didn’t know the elaborate process that goes behind making them. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    • getsetandgo September 22, 2013 at 10:02 #

      Since childhood, I have also always celebrated this festival at friends homes but never thought about the making of these idols, till I visited such workshops. Its quite an experience πŸ™‚

      Like

  5. eliexpat September 16, 2013 at 15:23 #

    Great post! Informative, and looove the pictures. What a wonderful festival it is:-) Thank you for sharing:-)

    Like

  6. Lauren (Indian Love Story) September 17, 2013 at 01:49 #

    Stunning photos!!! πŸ˜€

    Like

  7. stephglaser September 17, 2013 at 08:52 #

    Great post! Thank you for this interesting information β€”Β I so want to travel to India next year for Ganesh Chaturthi. Cheers!

    Like

    • getsetandgo September 22, 2013 at 10:04 #

      Thanks. You should travel to India sometime before the festival to see the activity in the workshops and then stay on to witness the Ganpathi festival madness πŸ™‚

      Like

  8. Indrani September 19, 2013 at 10:05 #

    Wow! elaborate details in these.
    I have similar ones of Goddess Durga.

    Like

    • getsetandgo September 22, 2013 at 10:06 #

      Thanks Indrani. By any chance do you know where Durga statues are made in Mumbai?

      Like

  9. magiceye September 19, 2013 at 14:27 #

    Lovely captures all!

    Like

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