Pen artists start sending Ganpati idols abroad
With only four months left for Ganesh Chaturthi, the idol makers from Pen have started sending Ganpati idols abroad.
The artists receive orders from the organisers from different countries between October and January. They finish making the idols by April and start sending them abroad by the first week of May from the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in Navi Mumbai.
“As soon as we finish making the idols, we inform the organisers and they give us contact numbers of their agents operating from Mumbai and Pune. The agents collect the idols from us and ship them abroad. Dispatching idols by flight is very expensive and that is why agents do not opt for that,” said Shrikant Deodhar, president of Shri Ganesh Murtikar ani Vyavasayik Kalyankari Mandal.
They export over 20,000 idols every year to countries such as the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Bangkok, Dubai and Mauritius among others.
According to Deodhar, the height of a majority of the idols is only one to two feet. Only a handful of the idols are three to six feet tall. Idols taller than six feet are a hassle to export so artistans stick to the standard height.
“We send idols abroad just because we receive orders from the organisers. However, the biggest market for our idols is our own state, Maharashtra. We also receive orders from neighbouring states such as Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Goa,” said Nilesh Patil, an idol maker.
Around 50,000 people in Pen are involved in Ganpati idol making and they work throughout the year to churn out over 50 lakh idols, made of both Plaster of Paris and clay.
Deodhar said, “There are some big Maharashtrian pockets in countries such as the US, UK and Australia and they celebrate the festival almost in the same way as we do. It takes almost two-anda-half months to export idols to them by ship. Therefore, they place the orders just after the festival so that they are ready by April.”