Lord Ganesha inspires innumerable artistic expressions but few as colourful and endearing as those conjured by the gifted 11-year-old, Maynard Padhi. A class 6 student of MRV Rishikul, Maynard is currently inspired by Anime artists but come Ganeshotsav and the elephant-headed god dominates his imagination.
Maynard’s general fondness for drawing goes further to find expression in a series of Ganesha idols sculpted out of clay. Something of a tradition now, he has been crafting idols each day of the ten days of the festival since the past four years.
It started when his dad, Santosh Padhi suggested he do ‘something interesting’ during Ganesh Charturthi. “Since I had done a few things in clay, I decided to make Ganeshas out of colourful dough clay. I make the idols the way my imagination wants to. I decide something in my mind and the clay helps me form my imagination,” he informs.
What he does do is attempt to make each idol different in colour and form, so that at the end of day 10, there is a happy variety. Interestingly, each idol bears a message. There’s Split Ganesha whose “mastery in judo, kung fu, karate and ninjutsu are amazing”. The All Blessings Ganesha “blesses with both hands. Now we all will get extra blessing from the same god!” Long Arm Ganesha “can bless the good and punish the bad, and with his long trunk he can reach to all the modaks in the world.”
Trust a child to come up with this brilliant logic! Alien Ganesha hailing from a faraway planet, “comes crawling on all four limbs for our help. His tiny eyes can see through all the big, small lies and truths and his little tail provides him energy.” Mickey Ganesha has taken inspiration from his pet friend Mooshak; “he is in a modern, cool, Mickey Mouse character with giant ears to hear our big and small problems.”
Trunk Turban Ganesha can be dangerous like his father Lord Shiva, but “the trunk turban on his head keeps him cool and calm.” The All Circle Ganesha is round like our world and its creator, while chubby Baby Ganesha “energises his devotees with his cute eyes”.
Witchy Ganesha “carries unlimited potions for all the problems in the world,” and Strong Ganesha “has the power of 1000 elephants. A pair of cool looking glasses makes him friendly,” Maynard helpfully supplies. Flexible Ganesha goes to show that he may be fat “but from inside he is the most flexible and friendly of all.”
Striking creative inspiration is clearly no concern for the lad, who explains, “He is a very cool, friendly and interesting looking Lord. He himself is so creative—I have heard creative stories of him—and that inspires me to be creative like him.” Ganesha must be pleased!
Incidentally, the Padhi home has been faithfully bringing the Lord home since more than three decades. On visarjan day, Maynard’s hand-made statues are immersed along with the family’s big puja idol, in an eco-friendly artificial pond. However, the tradition was broken one year—“That was the time I had made my Ganesha idol out of LEGO blocks and they were part of my big set,” he grins.
Watching their little craftsman at work, Maynard’s near and dear ones are probably as, if not more, excited. “My family and friends all encourage me and are always curious to know what’s next from me. My dad guides me at times but I only listen to him if I feel he is right. All our family members and relatives also visit to check my creations as well,” he shares.
Maynard, like many environmentally-conscious youngsters today, is quite clear about the celebrations needing to be mindful of our planet. “Our beaches are all polluted, hence we should not have big idols and no POP idols should be allowed as they don’t dissolve in the water easily. A few of my class students and I went to the Shivaji park beach cleaning activity on the Saturday following visarjan to give a helping hand,” he informs.
A big fan of origami and “creating crazy things out of waste and scrap,” Maynard sees himself continuing with his own personal Ganesha idol-crafting each year. Naturally, his passion has sparked inspiration among some of his friends and cousins, who try to give it a shot when they visit. One unlikely candidate—his grandmother, who tries to make idols in her own style. Ganesha has got to be very pleased!