These Kalyan artisans give shape to eco-friendly festival
Ganesh idols in all sizes are lined up at Kalyan’s historic Kumbharwada.
Artisan Rakesh Ghoshtekar, 46, is happy with his efforts. The orders were huge and he started his work late. “This year, the idol-making work began late because of the transport strike,” said Ghoshtekar, busy giving finishing touch to the idols.
Like him, many others in the Kumbharwada are working on idols, which have filled every inch of the workshop. Some of the idols are ready to be wrapped and readied to be transported.
Even as the artisans at the city’s biggest workshop changed the material from shadu (natural clay) to Plaster of Paris, the Goshtekars stuck to the traditional mode of idol-making.
“I am making around 30 idols of clay this year. The demand for eco-friendly idols has increased,” said Ghoshtekar.
His entire family is into idol-making. They make idols throughout the year but Ganeshostsav is the busiest time. Kumbharwada, or the colony of potters, in Kalyan is more than 100 years old.
The place was known for its clay idols and artisans would make idols only of clay. Most of them, over the years, replaced clay with Plaster of Paris. Only a handful of them still make idols of clay, which is eco-friendly.
“The number of artisans too is reducing,” said Durgesh Goshtekar,32, a artisan.
Another artisan, who makes the largest number of eco-friendly idols in Kalyan, is Naresh Kumbhar, 53.
He has already made 400 idols between 1 inch and 4 feet high.
“Every year, I manage to make a huge number of idols of shadu for my regular customers. This year, the demand has soared,” said Kumbhar, whose idols are already sold out.
“I have been making eco-friendly idols for 38 years. I also choose eco-friendly colours,” said Kumbhar.
The Kumbhars in Kalyan have been demanding a better place to do business but the civic body said it cannot meet the demands.
“Their business is a private one and so it is not the civic body’s responsibility to provide them space,” said a KDMC official.
In the last two years, woman artisans too have mastered the art of idol-making.
Anjali Khunare, 25, who used to make POP idols, now makes shadu idols. She is now an expert at designing the idols. “I always loved pottery and I used to make idols of POP. Two years ago, I learnt about eco-friendly idols made at Kumbharwada. I decided to join them,” Khunare.
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