Thursday, September 1, 2011


Lord Ganesha!

Happy Birthday to you Ganpati Bappa! I simply love you! Wishing every one of my readers a very happy Ganesh Chaturthi!

Ganesha Idols made from clay at a village (Pic courtesy: Nilesh Mhatre)

Ganesha is the elephant-headed God who is so loveable and cuddly that all of us want to befriend. This festival is celebrated with pomp and ceremony by all of us, Mumbaikars, most especially. On this beautiful occasion, I bring to you a blog on how the Ganesh idols are made and brought to the markets in Mumbai city. I have taken the information and pictures from a barracks-like stall at Dharavi for the same.

Work on Ganesha idols heats up in the village (Pic courtesy: Nilesh Mhatre)

As you walk from Sion station to Dharavi, you will find this stall on the right across the 90-feet Road that is on the left. The shop has no name or anything for specific identification. The primary thing is that you find a number of Ganesh murtis in various shapes and sizes in different stages of creation.

I was lucky to get these close-up shots
I met Raj from Ahmadnagar, a painter. I am not sure whether Raj should be called an artist or a painter. He does have the skill to turn out handsome hand-painted idols, but I mainly saw him wielding a spray gun while painting them. Luckily for me, Raj was quite willing to give me a lot of details of how the show goes on there. Raj asked me for a favour - their official photographer had not turned up, yet. He asked me whether I could give him copies of the photos on a CD. I was thrilled as he was ready to remove dust-covers from completed idols to make it possible for me to click away. Lucky me! You will find more pics on Rising Sun over the next 10 days.

That's Raj working on a Ganesh Murti
About 25 painters come down in a group from Ahmadnagar every year, about 2-3 months before Ganesh Chaturthi, to work with the same manufacturer, year after year. This is just one group. There are hundreds such coming down to Mumbai. This particular group works at the stalls in Dharavi, Andheri, Jogeshwari, Borivali and Kandivli.

A worker putting finishing touches to a clay idol (Pic courtesy: Nilesh Mhatre)
The idols all come ready made from many parts of Maharashtra – Pen, Ahmadnagar, Ambeghar, Shirki and some others. Some are made from readymade moulds while others are created by hand. Sometimes, the murtis are created with a mould and embellishments are later added by hand. Murtis are made of clay as well as plaster of paris. The ones in this particular stall were all made of the latter. Most of the small ones – one foot and less – are painted at the villages. The larger ones are brought in the raw state to be painted right here in the stalls to avoid damage.

POP Ganeshas waiting to be coloured at Dharavi

An idol partly painted
The shop that is set up here includes 10 barracks, each measuring 30’x10’. They pay a rent of Rs. 35,000 per barrack per month. That’s big money indeed! This is just the set up at Dharavi under one particular manufacturer. While the shop comes into existence 2 months before Ganesh Chaturthi, it continues to hold good for the upcoming Navaratri festival when there is demand for idols of Devi.

The gorgeous hand-painted Ganesh with tones of Lord Krishna
Raj takes about a couple of hours to paint a murti that is 4’ in height. This is just for spray painting. If there is a lot of hand painting involved, he takes another hour more. Spray painting is used most of the time as this works out cheaper. Hand-painting is done only on specific orders as these come very expensive.

The idols, especially the bigger ones, are booked by customers before they are painted. In fact, the buyers can choose the colours they want their Lord painted in.

A 4-foot murti made of POP costs between Rs. 300-400 when it is brought down in the raw state. Raj is paid Rs. 2000-3000 for the painting job. The cost of raw-materials is separate. The completed version of a hand-painted 4-foot idol is sold for about Rs. 35,000. Raj makes about Rs. 80000-90000 per Ganpati season. What he makes during Navratri is separate. The smallest and cheapest murti at the stall costs Rs. 200. The biggest murtis that come to their stall are as much as 12’ in height when I went to check the idols out. Raj said that bigger ones may turn up if there was demand.

Awaiting sale!
You might have noticed by now that all costs are given in a range. Well, that’s how it is, as costing is pretty flexible if you know how to deal with it.

I found this idol of Lord Krishna there. For Janmashtami, I presume
The costing ebbs and flows as per demand and the time when the customer lands up at the stall. Bargaining is possible as they are keen to sell away all their goods. But if the demand is more, then you might have to go away disappointed if you leave the purchase till the last minute.

I am sure all of these must be taken by now
The last I read up on the internet, a large number of idols were destroyed during the recent rains, creating a huge loss to the industry as a whole. I sincerely pray to Lord Vignaharta (the one who destroys our problems) to take care of everyone involved.


  1. Lovely article Sundari :)
    The pics are beautiful too !

  2. nice article n lovely ganpatis:)
    n plz share your experience with hiten tejwani:)

  3. @nikita
    Hi, thanks for the comment. I am glad you liked the article and pics

  4. Thank you for sharing the informative blog. It is indeed wonderful to read and useful. For
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  5. Confer an alluring appearance to your home with the aid of hand painted Ganesha. Look forward to internet to avail info about the idols and figurines online.

  6. Lord Ganesha is considered to be the symbol of success and prosperity. The idol of the Lord is considered to be an incredible part of every Hindu home.

  7. Hand-painted Ganesha art is a captivating testament to the exquisite craftsmanship. These unique creation bring divine presence in our life and home.

  8. I like Ganesha puajan and also like lord Ganesha murti. Murti making and panting is a art. They murties gives lots of positive energy to us.