Ganesh Chaturthi 2018: These Mumbaikars are squeezing time out of their jobs for Ganpati Bappa
Professionals in the city, who moonlight as artists at Ganpati-making workshops every year, tell us what drives them
If you drop by at Kambli Arts, a Ganpati-making workshop in Chinchpokli, you're likely to find freelance photographer Rohan More working his magic with the idols. "While the organisation's activities run through the year, I join in June because there are almost 200 idols of the Raja that we need to make," says the Mumbai Central resident, who runs a taxi service in the city.
Despite straddling two professions, the 29-year-old annually assists the organisation that has the sole rights to create Lalbaugcha Raja. Here, he looks after painting. "I come at 6 pm and stay back till the wee hours. The next morning I'm up early for my assignments. But that's alright, because I enjoy it," he says.
Santosh Devlekar has been volunteering at Nagpada's Chavan Ganesh Arts for the last 30 years. Pic/Bipin Kokate
More the merrier
Like Kamble, several professionals in the city are squeezing time out of their day jobs to volunteer at idol-making workshops on a pro bono basis in the months preceding Ganesh Chaturthi. More has been with Kambli Arts for the last three years, and before that he was volunteering with Mumbai's Ganesh idol maker, the late Vijay Khatu. "But it was always a dream to help make Lalabaugcha Raja," he gushes. The process usually begins with making the mould, giving it the right finishing and white-washing it. They then add skin colour to the idol, followed with painting the shalu (clothes) and some shading.
For Rasika Patankar, an admin with a Mumbai firm, it's the creative satisfaction she gets out of it that drives her to the workshop in Fanaswadi year after year. "I've always been interested in art, and this was a good way to utilise my talent. The best part is that you can be creative and imaginative with how you'd like to use the colours and ornaments," says Patankar. It's a passion that she shares with her husband, Siddhesh, who in fact, is an idol maker. Both of them lived in Charni Road, where Patankar would volunteer at his workshop, before they tied the knot. "There's so much demand for idols that one more helping hand is always welcome," says the 26-year-old, adding that it's often sent to countries like Australia, New Zealand and the UK.
Rohan More paints Ganpati's axe (parasu) at the Kambli Arts workshop in Chinchpokli
Juggling like a pro
Santosh Devlekar, who works with a shipping corporation in Navi Mumbai, wakes up at the crack of dawn - he has to reach his Navi Mumbai office by 7.30 am. He's back home by 5 pm and within an hour's time, he is at the workshop. Since the last 30 years, he has been volunteering at Nagpada's Chavan Ganesh Arts. "Back when I started, I didn't know a thing about making a Ganesh idol. Today, I can do it blindfolded. Everything I learnt was purely by watching," he says.
Like Devlekar, More also learned the art by watching other craftsmen as a student. "It's human to err, but the artists teach you the hacks to fix it," he says, recalling how he once ended up emptying a tub of paint on an idol, when somebody accidentally nudged him.
But both agree that drawing eyes is the most challenging part of the craft. "The pair of eyes must be made in such a way that a devotee feels as if Bappa is looking at him or her from any angle they stand in," says Devlekar.
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