Sculptors in Goa have been observing an increase in demand for small idols of Lord Ganesh for installation at home during the 10-day festival, which they attribute to the steady rise in the number of Maharashtrians settling in the state of late.
Artists say that natives of Goa usually opt for idols of the elephant-headed god that are average two feet in size, while people from Maharashtra – those who have made the state their new home – want idols sized less than a foot.
There is a growing trend of people from Maharashtra, particularly Mumbai, settling in Goa after the pandemic broke out and made work-from-home the new normal.
Like Maharashtra, Goa has a rich tradition of celebrating the Ganesh festival, which is known as ‘Chovoth’ here. This year, the festival will start on August 31.
Ritesh Chari, an artist, who is taking ahead his family business of making idols, says there has been a perceptible rise in the demand for smaller Ganesh idols over the past couple of years as compared to the pre-pandemic period.
“There has been an increasing trend of demand for small idols – as tiny as 10 inches. This was never witnessed in the past,” said Chari, who keeps the Ganesh idols in a makeshift structure in Margao town for display and sale.
He said that his unit makes Ganesh idols in Ponda town in North Goa district, his native place, from where they are transported to Margao in South Goa.
The buyers of smaller Ganesh idols are mostly Marathi-speaking, which indicates that they are not natives of Goa, Chari said, adding that Goan families usually prefer idols that are two feet or more in size.
Another idol maker, Ramakant Amonkar, who is from Marcel village in North Goa, said, “There is tradition in Mumbai to install and worship smaller Ganesh idols at home during the festival, whereas the idols in Goa are bigger in size.” He said that the demand for smaller Idols is across Goa, especially in the urban areas like Panaji, Margao, Ponda and Mapusa.
“Many families have shifted to Goa during COVID-19, especially those who are retired are preferring to make home in Goa, away from the fast-paced and crowded city like Mumbai,” he said.
Many families have stopped going to their ancestral villages and prefer to celebrate the Ganesh festival at their home in Goa, due to which they prefer to have smaller idols, Amonkar said.
“Smaller idols can also be easily transported for immersion,” he added.
The art of making Ganesh idols has been preserved by many families in the state.
Chari, 29, recalls how he learnt this skill from his uncle and would like to pass it on to the future generation.
He said the rise in the prices of raw material has forced them to increase the rates.
“The cheapest idols are priced at Rs 800, while the expensive ones are valued at Rs 12,000. Average middle class family buys Idol costing Rs 2,500 to Rs 2,800, which is a price of two foot Ganesh,” he said.
Chari has made 200 clay idols this time.
Rajendra Deshpande, a photographer by profession, is among the rising number of people who have made Goa their new home after the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in 2020.
Deshpande, who will be celebrating Chovoth with his family members here, said lower real estate prices and the option to work-from-home made him shift his base to Goa from Mumbai.
“Life in Goa is very peaceful. We shifted here when COVID-19 was at its peak. Now we have settled here permanently,” he said.
Goa Information Technology Minister Rohan Khaunte said the government is promoting the state as a destination where people from outside can come and work.