Ganesh Chaturthi India

Vellore, India- July 2017 An artist walks out the warehouse where the idols are painted and stored.

Ganesh Chaturthi India 2017
by Anusha Sundar

A festival dedicated to Lord Ganesh, the elephant faced deity is celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion as a part of Hindu tradition in India. It is not just a festival to worship the Lord, but an opportunity to revive the lost art of idol making.

The artisans who have been doing idols for generations, start making them in various designs and sizes way before the festival starts. A source of livelihood, the idols are created using mud, clay and other materials like porcelain. The day of the festival marks the idol to be decorated and worshiped, followed by bidding a farewell to the Lord by dissolving it in a water body.
The artisans bring the mud and clay needed for the idol making from the riverside banks. They make the idols with great devotion and artistic chivalry only to their creatives being dissolved in water again after the festival. They say what comes, goes back to its roots. The mud is once again reunites inside the lake bed only to come next year, in form of a spiritual identity.

A customer stands beside a huge Ganesha Idol.
The workplace of the artisans are huge and covered with dust and poor ventilation.
Mohanam, an artisan who makes small idols for household sale prepares for the festival with his wife to make the idols.
Mohanam molds the clay to make the Ganesha Idol.
An elderly couple still makes idol as a part of their family tradition.
In some families, the younger generation also make idols as their second occupation.
One week before the festival, the idols are seen being sold on streets. A young girl poses with an elephant mask.
A roadside artist and seller paints the idol.
After the celebrations and prayers being offered, the idol is taken as a procession where finally it ends it being dissolved into a water body.
With very less sources of water bodies, a few idols are dissolved in huge private wells.

Anusha Sundar

An aspiring photojournalist and documentary photographer. With a passion for visual storytelling and narrative journalism, I am interested in telling stories of human interest.

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