We hold this piece of earth in our hands. We sprinkle some life-giving water. We roll, we pound, we mould, we join four pieces together. We have a base ready to receive you Lord, won’t you come to us now? We hold this piece of earth in our hands. We create a perfect globe. We smile as we see the shape it’s taking. A smaller globe on top. Two triangles – one on each side. Is that a rope in front? We hold this piece of earth in our hands. We carve, we shape, we smooth out. Do we catch a glimpse of you Lord, are you recognizable now? “He needs a laddoo,” someone says. “A whole plate of laddoos. He’s generous and wants to share!” Someone puts a crown on your head. Someone makes your ears wavy. We hold this piece of earth in our hands. We smile, we take a selfie with you. We pose with friends in a gathering of Ganeshas. We have created something with our hands. We have created you, Lord, the remover of all obstacles. This, then, was the experience of a group of a dozen Bangaloreans, who gathered together on a Sunday evening in response to a message from Ekta Singh. Ekta, having met up with a craftsman called Arun and been impressed with his finesse with clay, had quickly set up a workshop, to create eco-friendly Ganeshas. “I gave people very little notice,” Ekta says. “I met Arun and got the idea just in time. I’m glad so many people showed up.” So, in the verdant surroundings of the Asian Spa in Koramangala, participants watched Arun demonstrate each step of the process. They often needed to slow him down – with his skilled hands, he went so fast, they needed repetitions to understand what he had done with the piece of clay. Soon, participants, many of whom hadn’t handled clay since their own school days, got the hang of it. Then the fun started, as each used Arun’s demonstration as a starting point, and went on to embellish their Ganeshas in myriad ways. Finally, each Ganesha was distinct. A plethora of photographs followed the two hour session. People wanted photos of their own idols, photos of other participants holding their creations, and group photos. “Ganesha is going to ban the paparazzi soon,” Ekta quipped. “How do we take Him home?” Quickly, cardboard sheets were cut from boxes. Someone who had come on a bike was heard to wonder whether to take the Lord home safely by cab. After a last group photo, a piece of cake and a cup of green tea, happy participants dispersed, taking with them a piece of earth that they had shaped into something divine.Sonali Bhatia is a Bengaluru based writer and storyteller.
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