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Mumbai gets ready to celebrate Ganeshotsav

Written by: Staff

Mumbai, Aug 23: As the ten-day Ganesha festival draws near, the idol-makers in the metropolis are busy giving final touches to the deity with a passionate zeal.

For Ramaben, sculpting idols of the elephant-headed god is a religion. ''I have been sculpting Ganesha idols since the last six years and have made 50,000 idols so far,'' she told UNI. As many as 9,999 of these idols were made in 99 days, she claimed.

''I have become so adept in sculpting idols of Lord Ganesha that I can do so blind-folded,'' claims Ramaben.

''I can, blind-folded, recreate different forms of Ganesha in minutes and, thereafter, open my eyes only to decorate the idols,'' she says.

In her deep devotion, Ramaben claims she had even worked non-stop for 24 hours once and created 144 idols. While sculpting the idols, her hunger pangs too are forgotten, says she adding that she had been invited by the Prince of Wales Museum to make idols.

People come to her for Lord Ganesha's idols even from abroad like the US, Malayasia, Australia, and Fiji, says Ramaben.

Ashish Patkar, who has a diploma in fine arts from the J J School, is another passionate idol-maker and his entire family is involved in this work.

Ashish has been making idols for the Siddhivinayak Temple since the last 15 years or so. ''I also make the GSB Matunga Ganpati which is 21-foot high and costs Rs 45,000, and the Sion Ganpati which is 8-foot high and costs Rs 18,000.'' He also makes smaller idols which are between one to four feet high. ''I do not make idols with a business purpose. I used to make idols for friends and neighbours, and I charge only for the big idols,'' he says.

The Ganesh festival is celebrated with much fervour in Maharashtra. The Siddhivinayak Temple here, which has around 5,000 devotees visiting it every day, has at least 25,000 devotees thronging it daily during the ten days of the festival.

Says Subhash V Mayekar, chairman of the Siddhivinayak Ganpati Mandir Trust, ''People have immense faith. We start preparing three months in advance to cope with this unprecedented rush of devotees.'' The temple has to make elaborate security arrangements. ''We have around 120 polimen manning the temple. Besides, zoom cameras, metal detectors, and scanning machines are installed.'' The Ganesh idol at Lalbaug here, lovingly described as ''Lalbaug Ka Raja'', is 12.5 feet high. The Ganapati here is the 73rd year of its ''sthapana'' and has celebrities coming for ''darshan'' from far and wide.

Satish Khankar, committee member of the Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal at Lalbaug, informs, '' We start preparing for the Ganesh festival after our annual general meeting in May.'' We make preparations for all Hindu festivals like ''Ram Navmi'', ''Shiv Ratri'', ''Hanuman Jayanti'' and others, he adds.

Over 1000 workers toil day and night during the preparations, he says. Here, too, adequate security measures are adopted -- metal detectors and cameras are installed. The committee has ensured that devotees are not hampered in any way from taking ''darshan'', says he.


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