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…


22 comments:

Avishek said...

Great photo-story. Beautifully seen and captured through words and the camera. Keep up the good work.

~ ॐ ~ said...

Bhoomi, this is a some good work !!!

very very nice !!

Anonymous said...

what a conundrum... now, readers will not know whether to harangue you to post more often or to wait for quality stuff like this.

bhumika said...

@Avi

Thank you. Inspiration comes from your great work :)

@Om

Dhanyawaad haiji.

@anonymous

I agree - the last break was pretty long. But i shall make up for it soon :) Thanks for your appreciation

megha punater said...

yipee you are back,lovely post it was definitely worth the wait :)

Piggy Little said...

:) i miss hometown. :)
wen i come, u and i, and a trip :)

lovely. lovely. lovely.

Chaggoholic.... said...

Findin God within one's self, in ur case thru the camera.Cool really nice....

bhumika said...

@megha

:) thank you

@ neha

definitely! i'm looking forward to it :)

@chaggoholic

welcome to my blog! finding god in oneself - it's all about faith, i believe.

dharmabum said...

there is always more to be seen than to be captured - what a beautiful thought, that! hats off - on that one, and all the colourful pictures. :)

PS: indeed you are a journalist - aren't blogs a part of media too?

bhumika said...

@dharmabum

Thanks for the appreciation.

"PS: indeed you are a journalist - aren't blogs a part of media too?"

I agree that blogs are a part of media. As for journalism - i consider it to be a very sacrosant pillar of our democracy. To call myself a journalist would be further diluting the already watered down image of the news media nowadays.

megha punater said...

bhumika,there is an award waiting for you in my blog :)

vineeta said...

This is such a fantastic post! Very well put together. With love. I havent been blogging & reading blogs at all for some months now. But I'm so glad I stopped by here :)

~mE said...

very nice photo journal

bhumika said...

@vineeta

Glad to see you on my blog after ages. I had a great time bringing together this post and feels good to know that you'll enjoyed it as much as i did :)

@sharanya

Welcome! That's a nice way of putting it - 'photo journal'. Guess i'll add it in my tags :) Do drop in more often.

pink dogwood said...

Just found you via Arch's chai blog - wow - I like your thoughts - will be visiting regularly :)

Bhavana

bhumika said...

@Bhavna

Welcome! and yes, do visit often :)

ramanjit said...

hi b,
very nice pic.
thanks for shearing it with us.

Komal-Nishka said...

Hey Bhoomi,

This post has brought back memories of that stretch - this was a street i'd pass every 15 days to reach my orthodontist at panchvati...awwww...

I am no longer in Abad but miss the city and its humbleness..

Love your thoughts too..

bhumika said...

@komal

welcome to my blog! i'm glad this post did its bit of reminding you of a'bad.

btw, did you visit ajay shah at panchvati?

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Amiable brief and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Thank you seeking your information.

Kishmeesh said...

Beautifull.........