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Where Lord Ganesha is in full bloom

A painting exhibition captures tales of Ganesha through various themes, writes Vibhuti Agarwal. Paintings

india Updated: Dec 16, 2005 14:29 IST

He's quite an accommodating deity— apart from being almost every housewife's favourite collectible icon and being worshipped at roadside temples— Ganesha is seen as an embodiment of intellectual and spiritual glory.

And Hyderabad-based artist Manilal has made use of this versatility to create more than 101 different versions of the Elephant God, displayed at New Delhi's Ashok Hotel.

"Ganesha has been part of me since childhood. And has always intrigued me. I chose the Lord as a subject to allow the common man to identify himself with my theme— since Ganpati is one of the most popular and reverend deities amongst the masses. By way of personifying Ganesha through paintings, I want to prove that God dwells in the hearts of all beings and not in temples alone," explains the artist.

Manilal started his career as a Biology teacher in Bhutan. His love affair with art

 Manilal is full of Ganesha

began in childhood, but it became a passion only after a Professor of Fine Arts College in Hyderabad insulted him. He rejected his candidature as an art teacher saying he was not apt for the job. Mani took it as a challenge and after a weeklong course in basics of art from a painter named Swami, dabbled with multimedia and soon resorted to painting.

Manilal is full of Ganesha— he tells interesting tales of the Elephant God through his colourful root, leaf, rock, ocean and universe series. His paintings reveal Ganesha in various modes— from a librarian to a common man, to an innocent child.

For instance, in one of his paintings, Ganesha is seen reading Mahabharata; while in the other, he compares the breaking of the coconut to the breaking of the ego.

"I have tried to introduce a bit of metaphor in my paintings. The breaking of coconut symbolises the breaking of a man's ego, which in turn facilitates flow of positive energy. Hence, before entering sanctum sanctorum one should leave his pride or ego behind."

The painter uses his brush with ravishing beauty. The collection of Ganesha in shades of green and copper is exceptional. Manilal has transformed conch shells, swastikas and flowers into appealing Ganeshas. Try unravelling the fabric and you will discover it has no beginning, no middle and no end.

Manilal lives and breathes Ganesha. He wants to educate people through the elephant god.

"I have more than 1,000 designs in mind," says the artist who wants to enter the Guinness Book of World Records through his marvellous collection. He has done extensive research and reading on Ganesha and launches into an extensive explanation on the background of every painting.

His signature, at times, extends to form a mouse.

The painter goes on to say: "My endeavour has been to convey the idea of the Universe through Ganesha."

The sheer number and variety of Ganeshas is fascinating. A few of the paintings are a little ungainly, but the exhibition is worth a visit just to appreciate Manilal's imagination and to marvel at the versatility of Ganesha.

First Published: Dec 16, 2005 14:29 IST