August 29, 2008
h/l: Crafting God with her eyes closed
Mumbai resident makes Ganesh idols blindfolded, is a five-time Limca record holder
Mumbai: A lot of people make Ganesh idols at home. Only a few make them within a matter of minutes, still lesser numbers give away idols for free and hardly anyone can make them blindfolded. Sion resident Rama Shah (48) has managed all these for the last eight years.
Shah has been making Ganesh idols out of clay and a ‘secret ingredient’ that she uses and can make miniscule idols in about 40 seconds while larger ones take about half an hour. Ever since she was a child, she was interested in making different things and experimenting with various materials.In year 2000, she said, she inexplicably started dreaming of Ganesh idols. “I would dream of idols in different poses and colours. Then I would wonder why I was dreaming of the elephant God. Finally, I decided to make Ganesh idols and put all my skills to the test.”
Shah found that she loved crafting the idols but decided that she would never sell them. “I feel that there is something divine guiding my hands when I make these idols. I work in a room alone and undisturbed, and I give away the idols free to people who come to me for a murti. Many times I am able to advise them on which one to select. Almost all of them come back and tell me that after getting the idol home, their troubles have vanished,” she said.
Since 2000, she has made 80,000 idols and is aiming to reach the 1,00,000 mark. However, she made her first blindfolded idol out of irritation because a lot of people doubted that she was making all the idols herself. “Once a man kept asking if I had made so many idols myself. I retorted that I could make one blindfolded in front of him if he wished,” she said.Last year, she created a record when she made 500 different Ganesh idols in 20 hours non-stop, and without using a block or mould. “My name is featured in the Limca Book of Records five times already,” Shah beamed.
The material she uses gets hotter and hotter as the work progresses, and she said, most people are not able to work with it for more than a few minutes. “But every day at least four to five people come to me and take away some murtis. That makes me so happy that even though my hands hurt with the constant work, I feel like making more,” she said, gesturing towards the hundreds of idols she has arranged in her living room.
After crossing the 1,00,000 mark next year, Shah plans to teach the art of making murtis blindfolded to visually challenged persons so that they can make a living.