Idols and ideas

New Twist

Idols and ideas

This is the only festival where the idols of a god are made and remade, moulded and remoulded and finally improvised with heady meanings. The semantics of culture and politics, not to speak of the religious, goes into this sublime art  of creating Ganesha and what emerges  in the end is the denouement of a new language of life, a new perception and a new age spirituality  derived from the here and now.

Makers of such idols  don’t need any lessons in creating global metaphors out of our gods and goddesses. The Ganesha festival offers them viable space in which to operate and put all their artistic stimulus into the making. A little propensity for contemporising idol-making  transforms the entire land scape of celebration. A different vocabulary in image formation has deconstructed our notions of the erstwhile Lord who at one time was pictured as seated on the pedestal  and doing nothing. Such run-off-the mill images now wouldn’t work.

Idols are no more idols of the past. They are  improvised into ideas which in turn have transformed the sublime or the transcendental imagery into forms  that cater to the urgency of our times.  Lord Ganesha is no more the singular deity descending from above to adjudicate between good and evil and to establish moral values in the world which otherwise would be writhing with guilts of one kind or another. He is the co-creator now of human destiny,  invigorating humankind to reach the altar of success.

In the  90’s,   a rumour had spread  that Lord Ganesha’s idols were drinking milk. Idols made of both mud and metal would sip milk through the trunk. Conformers thought, it was a happy omen and the naysayers felt otherwise but men of science explained the event as a consequence of  surface tension.

This was perhaps the incipient stage of transporting ideas of the day into the deity. As years rolled on, the Lord began to be portrayed as our own being conserving not the religious or the cultural heritage of a bygone era, but the mores and morals of today.

During the Kargil war, you would have visualised a war hero in an idol of Ganesha. There is nothing spiritual about computers. But they are the most secular of gadgets. If the Lord is seen glued to the computer with two of his hands on the key board and the other two, one holding a trident and the other a cell phone,  it does not seem incongruous. This is the God of our times,   in sync with the world we probably wish to negotiate. What a way to bridge our mythical past with the present! 

Now modern interpretations of Ganesha  have become common spectacles at this time of the year. Gone are the times when idols were wrought in specific moulds that displayed our past. Now new myths are created ever year where  freshly interpreted imagery  consigns  the old to oblivion.

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