“We take almost 5 days to prepare one idol” says Kamla Ben, responding to my inquisitiveness about the numerous grand, colourful and artistic idols of Ganpati (Lord Ganesha) outside her house. With a shy smile on her face she asks me if I’m from a news company. I say I’m not, but she shows no sign of disappointment, and continues to showcase the piece of art. Another craftsman, Deepak says “We have been making these idols for generations now, and it’s been over 140 yrs since our great grandfathers migrated from Rajasthan and settled here”. I humbly ask him if I could take his picture while working, and he readily agrees. On seeing the photo on the LCD screen of the camera, he finds it dark and asks me to open the flash and change the settings. This time I get a much better picture. Happy about it, he offers me tea and chats for almost 20 minutes, sharing about his family, his part-time job as a gardener, and his pet eagle ‘Shera’
Like Deepak and Kamla Ben, one can find number of other craftsmen at the Gulbai Tekri (Better known as Hollywood) area of Ahmedabad, who start their work at 7 in the morning and keep working till late night. Ganesh Chaturthi is the time for which they keep working whole year, and now that the festival is approaching, the work load for them is very high. Yet, being really excited over the upcoming festival, they do not shoo away any stranger with a 2 kg camera on its shoulder trying to distract them from their work but are really friendly and welcome anyone with a big smile.
With Ganesh Chaturthi heading up over the next week, I couldn’t find a better theme but to capture these highly talented craftsmen giving final touches to the their Lord Ganesha Idols.