Ganesh Chaturthi, which was synonymous with Mumbai for centuries, is fast becoming a popular fixture in the festival calendar of Kolkata and its suburbs. It has grown so much in popularity that many Kumartuli artisans prefer to make idols of Lord Ganesha over those of Lord Viswakarma. While Ganesh Chaturthi falls on September 17 this year, Viswakarma Puja is on September 18.
The festival has become so popular that various groups, or clubs, organizing community Ganesh Pujas have even come out with advertisements announcing their schedules, a feature very much in line with what committees do before Durga Puja.
“The trend of organizing Ganesh Puja has grown over the past five years. Before that, only about four to five Kumartuli artisans used to make, and sell, Ganesha idols each year. But this year, we’ve seen at least 40 artisans working on Ganesha images,” Ranjit Sarkar, joint secretary of the Kumartuli Mrit Silpo Sanskritik Samity, said.
“By our estimates, the artisans have built a total of at least 2,000 Ganesha idols this year,” Sarkar said. “The whole attraction of working on these idols is that an artisan can command whatever price he wants from the buyers. Nobody dares bargain where Ganesha is in question,” he said.
While the Kumartuli artisans have made 2,000-odd idols of Lord Ganesha, police sources said Lalbazar only has record of a little over 300 Ganesh Pujas being held planned by different organizations in the city.
The Baghbazar Traders’ Association has been organizing Ganesh Puja for the 13th year. “This year, the height of our idol is 17 feet and the festivities will go on for four days. We’ve seen an increasing number of people visit our pandal over the years and this is a clear indication that the number of devotees is increasing with each passing day,” Somnath Pal, a member of the association, remarks.
But Sarkar explains, “It’s not that the number of devotees of Ganeshji has increased, but that the number of community pujas has grown sizeably over the past four to five years.”