Even before Lord Ganpati visits the city, a Dubai-based Indian family has already welcomed their deity home. Even in London, Maharashtrian families have received their clay idols in cartons labelled ‘fragile’.
This year, more than 6,000 Ganpati idols crafted in workshops in Mumbai and Raigad district’s Pen have been shipped to United Kingdom, United States, Mauritius, Dubai and Australia.
“Last week, we sent one container comprising more than 3,000 Ganpati idols to UK and US-based retailers. The retailers will sell these idols to Maharashtrians living there,” said Pen-based murtikar (idol maker) Shrikant Deodhar, who is also the president of Lord Ganesha Statue Makers’ and Businessmen’s Association. “Some people also approach us directly after going through our websites,” he added.
At Pradeep Madhuskar’s workshop in Thakurdwar, several Indian families took along customised clay idols overseas after spending their summers in the city.
“These families have been our loyal customers over the last few years,” said Madhuskar, who caters to several international clients.
“We have to be extra careful while painting the idols to ensure that the paint does not get chipped,” he added.
For Santosh Kambli, his foreign clientele grew after some foreigners caught a glimpse of his creation – the city’s most popular Lalbaugcha Raja. “There are a lot of foreigners touring the city during the festival. They get information about our workshop from the locals at Lalbaug,” said Kambli, who recently shipped a miniature Lalbaug idol to a family in Dubai. “The foreigners are tuned in with Indian culture and the festivals. They are finicky about the colours and patterns on the singhasan (throne).”
Despite the fact that the workshops are abuzz with activity, a few murtikars are upset that most foreigners place orders only to accentuate their homes. “They do not celebrate the festival in its true spirit, but instead, are just enamoured by the colours and the Indian culture,” said Deodhar.