September 29, 2008

And the award goes to...

Meeeee :)
megha, an artist i truly admire recently awarded me.

For the love of blogging, i would like to pass on this award to some of my favourite blogs -
This is a no strings attached award. You can put the logo in your blog and pass it on to others if you wish. Thank you megha and thank you all for making blogging such an exhilarating experience :)

September 16, 2008

Where Gods Dwell

As I write this post, people across the country are bidding adieu to their favourite god – Ganpati bapa. Meanwhile, I go a li’l back in time to share with you some glimpses from the lives of the people who make these beautiful idols in the city of Ahmedabad.
Welcome to Gulbai Tekra. More often than not, people remember it as the slum around one of the most commercial areas in the city. But come Ganesh Chaturthi and the otherwise filthy area turns into a heaven – literally. Suddenly you begin to see the gods everywhere - in every corner, peeping out from every door and even standing in the middle of the road! For here lives the community that is best known for making Ganesha idols.
I made my trip just before the festival set in and captured some images that convey what makes this place so special.
Artisans put up make-shift camps at every corner and line up their idols, which are made from huge moulds.

The surface is smoothened and then paints are applied with the help of a spraying machine.

The sight of the idol going from white to colour is quite something.

Unlike earlier, idols nowadays are made from Plaster of Paris. Though it makes the process much faster and cheaper, the material doesn’t dissolve in water, causing pollution during Visarjan.

Make it or break it - it's all in our hands...
While men do the major paint job, women help in beautifying it further by painting the accessories.

What comes as the final product is absolutely stunning.

And these are not just the usual Ganpati forms. The artisans take full creative liberty in giving the gods any form that appeals to the devotees. So while you see a sai baba ganpati in one corner you’ll see a swami ganpati in another. Looks like a fancy dress competition to me where our sole hero is switching characters every now and then.

A family invites me to their home to take more pictures – they think I’m a journalist. They take me through some narrow lanes and into their house. I’m greeted by kids and women, giggling and shying away when they see a camera in my hand.  
Inside, more idols await to be greeted.

I take a walk around the little house and find creativity in every corner.

I keep the camera aside and move around the house; there’s always more to be seen than captured. By the time I leave, I’ve absorbed much more than what I’d expected.
It’s not so much about the place, but the people who live here...

You see a sense of pride in whatever they do...

You find joy reflected through their eyes…

You feel more than welcome, though you are a stranger…

Perhaps that’s the reason even the gods dwell here

It’s not about the place, it’s the people…