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Thursday, August 28, 2008

From a clay ball to Elephant God

Trying my hand at the urban Hinglish style of writing. Slightly long post, bear with me.

My experience at a eco-friendly Ganesh-idol making workshop at IITB

As I left the registration desk, a ball of clay on a small sheet of wood was handed to me. I looked around and saw some half-made while most completely done Ganpatis. I looked at the ball on my table. I was kind of scared - will I be able to do it?

Phir toh bas, Bhagwan ka naam liya - and kaam pe lag gaye. The instructor asked us to make four equal-sized balls of the huge ball. Bas banaa diye - remembered the laddoo-making days as a child at Nani's place. The practice paid off as I placed four perfect round balls on my table. The instructor looked at them and said, "Sir, kaise banaaye hain aap ne?! Unhe finishing dijiye!" Finishing? Now what on earth is that? I dipped two fingers in the bowl of water and just kept cleaning the surface of the balls.

"Okay now, take the first piece and make a square pattice of it?" Oye! Ganpati banaana sikhaa rahe hain yaa ragda pattice?!, I thought. I took time doing it. I was the last one to finish. Then, the instructor said, "Now take small pieces of clay and place them on the lower half of the pattice as the stomach of Ganpati." I did it with expertise though.

Just then, the instructor said, "Sir, Aapka pet (tummy) bahut chhota hai!" Dude!! I felt like the king of the world!! Finally, someone had noticed the disappeared paunch of mine. Soon I realized it was about the idol I was making. Ganpati is called 'Lambodar' (the one with the huge stomach) and I had to make the 'Udar' (stomach) 'lamb'. (huge)

After the tummy was done, she again said, "Finishing do abhi!" And again I moved my fingers lightly over the surface of the idol.

"Now make two thin strips for the hands!", she said. "Can I make four?", I asked, "I want my Ganpati to have four hands!" Aur yaar that instructor made faces jaise maine use uske do haath hi maang liye ho Ganpati ko chipkaane ke liye! "Sir, chaar haath chipkenge nahi!"

But I was adamant and I did make four hands - the lotus, the sword (that doesn't look like a sword), the Hand that blesses and the one holding the modak.

"Ab do logs banaiye as leg piece!" An old lady raised objection to it. She was deeply offended at the usage of 'leg piece' for legs of Ganpati.

Then we made the legs, the Elephant head and then the instructor declared that the rest depended on us. We could use our creativity and make the idols beautiful.

I made a tiny lotus and a modak for Ganpati bappa to hold. I made a shawl (Aah, I remember how awkward I feel at poojas back home - when I have to sit shirtless. That's when mom comes to rescue and hands me a shawl.) for Ganpati. I made two tusks, a crown that looked more like a hat. Bhai, kuch karna padega - the instructor told me that I could paint it appropriately later.
It was time to paint. They had three colours - yellow, red and white - natural colours. I began painting - my strokes were light and my hand was not steady as such. Later, things went on.

When it was time to use the white colour for the ornaments and the eyes, etc., Anupama (my cousin) 's voice echoed through my ears (Yaya I know I am filmy) , "Keep it subtle and simple. Loud is tacky!"

So, I made some basic lines on the Ganpati and here it was - Ready!!

By the way, Finish tak pataa nahi chalaa ki yeh finishing kyaa hota hai!!! Making the idol was, however, an experience of a lifetime!!!! Superbly fantabulous!!

On a more serious note,

It gave me a sense of achievement and a feeling of bliss as I converted the clay ball to the Elephant God that I love the most. The God created me - I created a representation of his today with my own hands. I felt I had converted my belief in God to a physical form - the idol that rested before me!


  1. very nice...
    its really cool that you made the idol with all the tiny details...

    and of course, that you kept it subtle and simple!! :P

    im sure u wont feel lik doin the idol's 'visarjan'...