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Creating the mould of god

Ganesh Chaturthi might seem far away (September 9). But ifyou celebrate this festival with fervour, now might be the right time to bring in a new aspect to festivities this year -- by learning to make your own idol.

Ganesh idol workshop in Pen
Ganesh idol workshop in Pen

“Traditionally, to make the idol, people would use clay dug up from the front yard of their homes. But gradually, craftsmen and sculptors began to make better idols, and people started outsourcing this task,” says 56-year-old Shrikant Deodhar who belongs to a family that had been into the business of making Ganesh idols for four generations. The Deodhars worked from Pen, which is known for it buzzing idol-making industry.

“Pen is located at an area between Mumbai and Pune, so workshops would get orders from both cities. Another important factor is that initially, in the 1950s, industrialisation hadn’t touched Pen. So this industry provided employment to various unskilled labourers. Besides, one didn’t have to be an artist to get into this business as once the mould is made; it’s possible to produce the idols by the dozen. No one cares about copyright issues in this industry,” says Deodhar.

New avenues
Last year, Deodhar shut his idol-making workshop and now deals in fine art sculptures and commissioned works. Having studied at JJ School of Arts, his formal training has also helped him add on to his family trade. The participants at this two-day workshop will be taught the process of clay modelling, which is used to create the idol later used as medium to create mould for products. “Plaster of Paris is lighter, easier to handle and more durable which is why it is used for mass production. Though the original idea of the festival was to create something from the earth that goes back to the earth,” says Deodhar.

The next generation of Deodhar’s family is not a part of this business today and he says it is a similar scene with other families too. “People have other modes of earning in Pen today as the city has expanded to this region with several industries located here,” says Deodhar who is also the president of Shri Ganesh Murtikar Aani Vyavasahik Kalyankari Mandal.

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