Mattancherry is gearing up in style for the forthcoming Ganeshotsav

A large Ganesha idol sits contentedly under a colourful canopy at Bharat Rasiklal Shah’s house on Lalan Street in Mattancherry. It is yet to be painted, but appears charming with cute ears, an elephantine belly and a curvy trunk. “Wait till you see him after he is all set for the ustsav,” Bharat Shah assures us, “he is going to be the handsomest of them all.”

The idol that approximately measures up to 10 ft and weighs about 300 kg is made of clay. The Cochin Ganesh Mandal, which has planned large-scale celebrations for the Ganeshotsav this year, has brought artisans from Kolkata.

“Usually they travel throughout the country to make idols for Durga puja. But this time, we have roped them in for making the Ganesha idol,” says Shah, who is the president of the Mandal.

The bulk of the idol is made of straw and bamboo with a thick coat of clay, smoothened to perfection. The mooshik (rat), considered to be Ganesha’s preferred vehicle, has been positioned at the feet of the idol. Tapan Jaana, who heads the small team of three artisans, has taken care not to over embellish the idol. A few flowers, also fashioned in clay, are all you will find in front of the idol that is seated on a throne.

On September 19, however, the idol will be decked up in garlands and colourful finery and taken out in a procession to the Haathi Talav Grounds on Gujarati Street, where it will be installed.

Highpoint of the festival

“The highlight of the festival is that every day the getup of the idol would change. The background, the decorations and the food that is prepared, will be different. For instance, one day, the decorations around the idol will be the Kailash parvath, the next day, we might make a jungle,” says Shah.

The festival will also bring in cheer for fans of Lord Ganesha’s favourite foods — modhak and laddoo. These will be prepared along with other Ganeshotsav specials.

Unlike previous years’ celebrations, where smaller Ganesha idols were purchased from either Mumbai or Bangalore, this year the Mandal wanted to have a huge Ganesha idol.

The revelry would be akin to that of the Ganeshotsav in Mumbai, they say.

Mattancherry has approximately 3,000 Gujaratis, who migrated to the State years ago for business, mainly in spices. Many of them consider Kochi their home. “I call myself a Malayali-Gujarati,” Shah says.

The streets of Mattancherry will be abuzz with festivities till September 29, when the idol will be taken to the Fort Kochi beach to be immersed. The 10-day celebrations, which will include pujas and cultural activities, will be open to every one – “any one who loves Ganesha” says Shah.

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