By Sonali Desai

He is one God who has the most interesting story in the Hindu mythology. Every year he is welcomed with utmost joy and ethusiasm. Before he arrives, our sculptors get busy in creating him. The preparations are in full swing in the city as Belgaum approaches the big festival. Belgaum being the border district enjoys the perquisite of celebrating the Ganesha festival in the Mumbai spirit. Most sculptors in Belgaum start their work three months before the festival, some take orders and some create Ganesha idols with some target in mind. Gigantic Ganesha idols stand undressed, undone in most of these Ganesha sculpting studios. They are busy giving the idols a finishing touch.

Ganesha can be huge or petite but since he is popular amongst all age groups he becomes the favorite God of all. Ganesha will soon be received with great gusto and fervor in most homes. But what goes into the making of these idols? Most sculptors talk about the changes that they have witnessed in the sculpting of a Ganesha idol in the present day.

“Most idols today are fantasy based. In the past, Ganesha idol was created on the root of mythology but today Ganesha is given several avatars, be it political or social issue,” said Sanjay Killekar, sculptor.

As you enter Ramdev Galli, opposite Subhash photo studio a small lane opens to a huge gate on the left-side. You see people standing in front of a gate, keenly admiring the making of Ganesha idols. It’s a Sanjay Killekar’s sculpting studio. There are around 20 Ganesha idols in the making.

Sanjay is sculpting a 14 feet idol that will be received by Shukravarpeth residents. He takes orders for only big size; idols above 10 feet. “Most of the idols are for Belgaum, only one order has come from Goa,” said Sanjay. He has finished his diploma in sculpture at JJ school of Art, Mumbai.

It’s been 20 years he has been sculpting, and does not belong to a family of sculptor. His father works at a milk Dairy. Talking about how he got into this profession, Sanjay said, “There are many sculptors near my house; the surrounding was such that I got inspired. I was also good in drawing and that is how I entered this field.”

Another sculptor who specializes in creating big-size Ganesha idols from last twenty is Pranam Vishal Vishnupanth Gode. He graduated from Beynon Smith School of Fine Arts in the year 1989, and started with sculpting small-size Ganesha. “I come from hotel background but I was interested in painting and that’s how I started on my own in the year 1996,” said Vishal.

Today, he has sculpted around 1600 idols. He has both big and small sized Ganeshas which are priced between Rs 325 and Rs 18,000. Twenty of his Ganesha idols orders have come from Hubli, Dharwad and Davangere. He also informed that, “the sculptor who created Lal Bagh cha Raja (Ganesha idol) has issued a copyright of this model and hence this is the only year in which Lal Bagh Cha Raja Ganesha can be created. It has been banned next year.”

If Sanjay and Vishal have chosen their own passion for sculpting, then Venkatesh Rao Mudgokar is taking forward the familial trade of sculpting Ganesha idols. It’s been 60 years since their family is selling Ganesha idols of small-size. At 74, Venkatesh has managed to create all the 500 idols under the assistance of his son, Sunil, grandson and daughter-in-law. He started carving Ganesha at the age of 12, and has fascination for making eyes. “We usually make mandap size Ganeshas that is mostly demanded by Brahmin families,” he said.