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Ganesh idols getting final touches

Idol-makers say never had idols been so much in demand in Kerala before

August 27, 2022 06:32 pm | Updated 06:32 pm IST - PALAKKAD

C. Manoharan giving final touches to a giant Ganesh idol at his workshop at Kodumbu near Palakkad.

C. Manoharan giving final touches to a giant Ganesh idol at his workshop at Kodumbu near Palakkad. | Photo Credit: Abdul Latheef Naha

Festivals are being celebrated with a vengeance after COVID-19 destroyed the festivities of 2020 and 2021. Thousands of giant Ganesh idols are getting spruced up for the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations taking place on August 31 and September 1.

Idol-makers say never had Ganesh or Ganapati idols been so much in demand in Kerala before. The festival, which used to confine in Maharashtra, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Karnakata and Tamil Nadu, is gaining popularity in Kerala too.

“In recent years, the demand for Ganesh idols has increased considerably. After the COVID-19 break, people are celebrating with a vengeance. And we are not able to meet the demand,” says Rahul M., who makes idols at Kodumbu, near Palakkad.

The highest number of Ganesh idols is made in Palakkad and Thiruvananthapuram, two districts sharing cultural links with Tamil Nadu. Palakkad and Thiruvananthapuram are ahead of other districts in celebrations too.

Many of them have shifted to eco-friendly idols, using paper pulp and chalk powder. If placed in rain, a 15-ft giant Ganesh idol made of paper pulp can vanish in 15 minutes. “All the material we use for idol making will dissolve in water. That is the advantage of these light-weight Ganesh idols,” says Mr. Rahul.

The eco-friendly Ganesh idols are not so heavy as they appear to be. A 15-ft giant idol will be around 200 kg, including the wooden stand on which it is fixed. Light-weight wooden stand is used not only for ease of transport but for the firm poise of the idol as well. The hollow idols are fixed firmly to some rods inside them and tied to the wooden stand.

Ganesh idols in varying size are used for the festival. From one ft to 15 ft, idol-makers offer many choices for the devotees. The cost of idols too varies from ₹300 to ₹30,000.

“Apart from Palakkad, I am getting orders from Ernakulam and Pathanamthitta. I have stopped taking orders because of a severe shortage of raw material and high demand,” says C. Manoharan, for whom Ganesh idol is a seasonal business.

Mr. Manoharan has been specialising in Sri Krishna idols and supplying to various agencies, including the State Khadi Board. According to him, Tamil influence is a major reason for the increasing popularity of Ganesh festival in places such as Palakkad and Thiruvananthapuram.

The giant idols are made in pieces. The torso, head and limbs are separately moulded and joined together using eco-friendly glue. “That is why we advise the people not to lift the idol by its hands or legs. They will come apart. The idol should be lifted by the stand,” says Mr. Manoharan.

Although the Ganesh idols are made invariably with one broken tusk, the makers offer a wide variety of choices in the animals that accompany the idol. “We attach animals like lion, elephant, rat, bull, leopard, and peacock. It is up to the people to choose. And we use water-soluble colours,” says Mr. Rahul.

When some people conduct puja for 10 days, some others restrict it to seven or three days. Many idols are already placed for puja across the State. The last batches are readying for transportation into puja halls. After the main rites of Ganesh Chaturthi on August 31, the idols will be carried in processions and immersed in waterbodies across the State on September 1.

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