A bustling city street in the culturally rich neighbourhood of Sadashiv Peth bears no indication of a traditional Ganeshotsav practice. A stone’s throw away from the Hatti Ganapati Temple is Girish Charwad’s ancestral home which holds an art that is almost rare to find in the city. The festival of the elephant-headed god in the Charwad household has been a time of proclamation for the Indian traditional art.
The delicate practice of carving and moulding intricate designs that were etched in marble to create historical masterpieces or magnificent palaces for royalty. An artist and musician, Girish Charwad belongs to the fourth generation of the skilled family that would put in their heart and soul to envelope an entire room in beautiful carvings to welcome Gauri during the Ganeshotsav. “This practice of elaborate decorations for Ganeshotsav is 150 years old. It started with carvings in wood, but almost 60 years back when Thermocol came into the market, my father and I have been using it for carving.”
Also a professor at Bharati Vidyapeeth University, Charwad has shifted base from his ancestral home but most of his time is spent at the 200-year-old abode. “My family has been into traditional carving of palace oriented designs. All the art work boasts of originality despite it being done for so long. Therefore, it takes me six months of work to create a unique masterpiece for every Ganeshotsav,” says Charwad. An entire room is dedicated to create a mandir for a Gauri idol. The carving and moulding which is designed for varied styles of the mandir, different concepts, composition and layouts has become so popular that the tiny home is visited by almost 2,000 people coming all the way from Canada to Chennai.
The passion to preserve a dwindling tradition that holds together family values and a skillset that is hard to master is what drives Charwad. “Since the fifth standard I have held a blade in my hand and there has been no looking back. My father would do non-dimensional cutting and as I picked up the skill, I started experimenting with 3-D carving,” smiles the art lover. Festivals are meant to bring families together and in the same spirit the entire Charwad family unites to assist in the preparations for Ganeshotsav. “Every family member makes an effort to be as involved as possible. If some do not possess the skill set they will do menial but important chores such as cooking for everyone or even washing utensils,” adds Charwad.
Juggling between work and travelling cross-country to educate people about this art form, Charwad makes sure his true intentions are worked on- “I have realised that the decorations you see in the market are at the hobby level and made with a casual attitude. I want to make it sustainable so that it can be preserved.” He also feels that “the demand for authentic Indian traditional art is high on an international level, something that is missing here”. “The people of Pune appreciate art but are not willing to buy it,” he rues.
To change this, Charwad has decided that from this Ganesh festival onwards, he will take up orders to decorate other people’s homes for the celebration. “Till now, my ancestors did it out of sheer love for it. But, I want to make this a business so that more people become aware of it,” he announces. Charwad’s home which showcases a unique masterpiece this year as well will be displayed on September 8 and 9.
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