July 24, 2011

Ganapati Idols Idle Streetside In Mumbai


Ganapati Idols On Sale In Mumbai

If Mumbai needed any further reminding of the approaching Ganesh Chaturthi festival, the makeshift structures made of bamboo supports lashed together and alternately covered by plastic sheets and the occasional tarpaulin now cropping up on roadsides with colourfully done Ganapati idols on sale do an effective job of reminding the city that its most cherished, dutifully celebrated, and much revered deity, Ganapati, pot belly and all, is due a visit to their homes.

I’d have to stretch my memory to recollect any other Hindu deity as creatively rendered as Ganapati or Ganesha as the elephant-headed God is known. If he didn’t occupy the minds as much he wouldn’t find himself skillfully rendered in mediums ranging from plantain leaves, coconut shells, rava ladoos, to wood, Plaster of Paris, and clay among other material. It obviously helps to have a trunk as his most distinguishing feature.

For the sake of Ganapati, the devout will banish fish and other non-vegetarian food from their house until the time he occupies centre stage in the house, preening in decorated luxury while neighbours troop in for his blessings, and the modak of course. It's another matter however, like they say of Goans good-naturedly, that hardly has Ganapati been borne out the front door to much merriment and tears alike, the fish comes in the backdoor!

Ganesha Clay Idols In Mumbai
Across the road in Vile Parle (East), just as we approached the railway station yesterday, headlights from the traffic streaming past lit up the Ganapati idols on sale at a roadside shelter manned by a woman busy on the phone fielding enquiries for the Ganesha idols on sale while her assistant was showing a couple around the place. They had a difficult time choosing from the shapes and sizes on display, each as endearing as the next.

Soon, as the days pass and Ganesh Chaturthi draws near the idols disappear as families take the deity home to continue their love affair with harbinger of good.

And somewhere trackside, only interrupted by the local trains hurtling past, youth from shanties and slums neighbouring the railway tracks will be drumming away in small circles, practicing for the return journeys Ganapati will make, back to the earth from whence he sprang into the Indian consciousness.

Note: On the highway between the western suburbs of Borivali and Jogeshwari, workers in makeshift tents are busy at work on Ganpati idols, adding finishing touches before putting the Ganapati idols on sale.

Note: This year the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations will kick off on September 1.

Related Posts

1. The Last Journey Of The Elephant-headed God

10 comments:

Riot Kitty said...

I have a Ganesha on my desk at work, but these are much more colorful. You take great pictures.

Grannymar said...

Every time I read your posts, I learn something new!

Anu said...

For the last 2 years, I have been thinking of carrying my camera and taking pics of ganeshas at these makeshift workshops and shops, but havent got around to actually doing it!

Indian Bazaars said...

It's nice that you point out how many different mediums one can see the Ganesha in - the plaintain leaf, the rava laddoos, coconut shells...A few years ago, as we were driving along the Konkan coast having started from Bombay, we took a detour into Pen and it was so delightful to see what they called the "Ganapati Kharkhanas" where the ganesha idols are made in large numbers. It's always a beautiful sight to see so many Ganesha idols in one place!

Anil P said...

Riot Kitty: Thank you. That's indeed nice to know.

Ganesha is invoked for the goodwill, and for being the harbinger of good tidings.

Grannymar: Thank you.

Anu: The next year you could give it a try.

Often, the lead up to Ganesh Chathurthi or Chauth as it is also known is a wet time, with the rains heavy on the street, and photography becomes that much more difficult to do.

Indian Bazaars: Thank you. That's true. Creative representations of Ganesha are legion.

The Karkhanas you mention are central to village and town activity in the lead up to Ganesh Chaturthi. In the picturesque Konkan the Ganesh festival is quite a sight.

anilkurup said...

The ruckus that is created is hallmark of Indian consciousness,I would see it that way.

Is there something ritualistic in Hindu religion that denotes that the melee that is created with these painted idols and eventually dumping them in every cesspool worsening the already polluted waters and most of all stamping the power of Hindutva
loud and clear?

I disagree to the reason or alibi that the Idol fanfare of Ganesh Chathurthi is the essence of Hinduism or culture. It is not . It is politics usurping a harmless religious devotion.

Anil P said...

Anil Kurup: Considering the popularity of the Ganapati festival it was inevitable the political parties would jump straight in and stage it on a larger in their constituencies, consequently attracting advertisers as is the case with dahi handi celebrations.

Insofar as it being ritualistic, I don't quite see it that way. There's much symbolism in Hindu rituals, meaningful symbolism, and much of the symbolism is symbiotic with nature, and with philosophy though it's another matter that increasing use of chemicals as in colours is polluting water bodies, though that might never have been the intention when it began at first.

And Lokmanya Balgangadhar Tilak did use the existing Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations and elevate it into community celebrations as a way to strengthen community bonding as a means to awaken national conciousness against British Rule.

The essence os Hinduism is much deeper, and Ganesh Chaturthi is only a part of it, not the whole.

In my view, the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations, the preparation leading into the celebrations, the community gathering to celebrate, the coming together of diaspora to their native village, the visitations of neighbours, the plays staged during the occasion, the prayers and the like are cultural and Hindu in their essence, in addition to worship of deities in the form of idols.

Robbi said...

Hello Anil. I thought I'd return the visit!
I have a Ganesh figurine on my mantel, next to the kiddish cup bearing a Jewish star! My yoga teacher brought the former as a housewarming gift from India when she was there in Pune.
Isn't Ganesh also the bringer of challenges or obstacles? This is what she said, and shortly thereafter, I lost my job.

Anil P said...

Robbi: Sorry to hear about what happened. Ganesh is worshipped more for being vigna harta, as someone who will banish obstacles or hurdles.

Even otherwise, every auspicious activitiy or inauguration will be conducted with prayers to Ganesha, under his watchful eye so as to ensure all goes well.

As for also bringing challenges or obstacles I wouldn't know much, maybe he does, but he shouldn't be bringing them!

anilkurup said...

@ Rohit,

I do not see it as justifiable to blame poor Ganesh for your losing your job.

The affable Elephant God is only a member of the Pantheon of Hindu Gods like they have in Greek pantheon. It is the folklore and myths of yore that has placed the poor gods in a very unenviable pedestal.You know what I mean. Mans creation, the poor Gods have not been given a choice , a breather and we go running to them for all our ills. And we kill and slaughter in their name and for them. Did we ever ask them if we can use them , invoke their name for our idiosyncrasies?