Adored among a large and diverse population, Lord Ganesha arrives at our homes and cities this week. But he resides in our hearts and our wardrobes round the year. Vinaya Patil takes a look at how Bappa is a big part of the fashion industry.
Come August 25 and all roads will lead to Ganesha pandals to celebrate the 10-day festival. The pandals are already in place and only the finishing touch remains. Besides community mandals, which draw big crowds, the loveable Lord Ganesha is also brought home for families to celebrate the festival with equal fervour and enthusiasm. Preparations at home too are underway and you can already feel the festive gaiety and cheer that Ganesh Utsav spreads around this time of the year.
Though the festival arrives once a year, the spirit of our very own Lord Ganesha stays with most of us through the year — what with our fascination with the elephant god and incorporating him into our daily lives. From our doors to cars, office desks, showcases and almost every geographical space in our lives, he has his presence in some way or another.
The largest celebration of this ‘destroyer of evil’ begins this week, but we celebrate him round the clock and fashion is not an exception. Our clothes, jewellery, bags, watches and even the human body adorns this one-toothed god. He is easily the most depicted god in Indian fashion, agree designers and artists in the city. While ethnic wear is a usual part of Ganapati dressing, there are also some literal ‘Ganapati outfits’ you could try.
The fashion god
Ganapati is depicted with the elephant’s head on a human body and in the Hindu tradition, is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. He is known as the remover of obstacles and is often offered prayers at the start of a new enterprise or venture.
“Ganesha designs should be modern and innovative but at the same time, should have an Indian touch,” says Sajida Nain, designer and co-partner at Osman and Sajida, adding, “Fashion for me is a lifelong pursuit of excellence, an honest endeavour to interpret the mysticism that lies beneath the woven thread.”
Four-time National Award winner Neeta Lulla has also designed clothes featuring Lord Ganesha and Warli art for Grammy-winning producers and American DJ duo The Chainsmokers who are coming to India this September.
Clearly, the popularity of the god of wisdom is not just limited to India. “Abroad too, Ganesha is a hit and I thus plan to include an overseas trip in my schedule next year onwards,” says city-based tattoo artist Pranay Shah, who has a large customer base asking for Ganesha tattoos. He does at least five to ten of them every month. “Not just in Mumbai and Pune, but across the country and abroad, people go for Ganesha tattoos. I am in the city for 20 days and travel through the country for 10 days for work and have observed this trend. Ganesha has a charm, a connect. You even begin writing in a book or notepad with a ‘Sree’,” he points out.
Age/ gender no bar
Our clothes too see Ganesha designs often. “They have always been a favourite among teenagers in graphic forms on t-shirts and tops. That aside, a lot of crop tops for girls, kurtas in the form of prints as well as embroidery also have Ganesha-inspired designs nowadays. Breaking the regular placement, this time it’s also trending on back of crop tops, t-shirts, kurtas or even blouses,” explains Deepti Acharya, founder/creative head of Rose Couture. “Gods’ images, in general, on backs, be it in dresses, blouses, jackets are a big hit this season. From Krishna to Tirupati Venkayya to Ganapati and even Shiva — there’s so much embroidery and surface ornamentation,” she adds.
For centuries, arts and handicrafts have developed as two distinct and independent identities with well-defined purposes. “This disconnection has constantly highlighted the difficulties in combining the two concepts by form and function into a single creation. We use acrylic colours and hand motifs to create Ganapati on fabrics or dresses,” explains Nain. Accordingly, it is then printed on stoles, scarfs and more. “Sarees where the shoulder area or pallu is printed with Ganesha idols is trending in women’s attire,” says Deepti, adding, “We even see men’s ties with Ganesha images printed on them, either in colour or monotone — a perfect formal look with a festive twist.”
The playful Ganesha has also made a foray into kids’ fashion. Be it printed jackets, dupattas, or embroidered skirts, Ganesha-inspired designs are very much in vogue. Studded denim jackets with Ganapati prints are perfect for those who like to sport a rough-and-tough look in the festive season, she suggests.
This is one god that sees lots of variations too. “You always have the scope to experiment, with its trunk, and other features and avatars unlike many other gods,” says Shah who has painted tattoos with a trishul-or drum-holding Ganesha in the past. “He is always the first choice with people wanting religious tattoos. I have seen a great demand for Ganesha tattoos in the last five years of my work,” he tells us.
Ganesha in accessories
Known by 108 different names, Ganesha manifests itself in various accessories too. A big part of an Indian woman’s fashion statement — jewellery too has seen much of Ganesha. “I have sold so much of gold jewellery with Ganesha designs that I have lost count,” says Navi Mumbai-based jeweller Prakash Banthia. “From pendants to earrings and sometimes even bangles, the Ganesha or ‘Aum’ are always in demand,” he informs.
“I have been wearing a tiny Ganapati in my delicate gold chain since I was 15. It’s my lucky charm. I don’t step out without this chain,” says 29-year-old Pranali Mhatre, an advertising professional.
When it comes to accessories, even bags, mobile covers and watches are not left behind either. These, however, are things that see a hike in sale around the festive season. “The sale of mobile covers with Ganapati designs shoots up immensely around festival time. We order large stocks around this time,” says Prashant Pandhare, who owns a small mobile accessories and electronic store in Panvel. Same goes for kids watches with Ganapati inscriptions on the dial.
In bags, the tote style of bags sees the most innovative paintings. “We usually incorporate festival-based designs into simple cloth bags. From Ganapati to Diwali, these bags see a lot of creativity,” says another Mumbai-based artist-cum-retail shop owner.
As a fashion crazy and largely enthusiastic lot of people, we are constantly incorporating seasonal changes to our wardrobe. So for the ones who are not flaunting Bappa through the year, right now is a good time to do it. Flaunt your innovative fashion self this Ganapati season with these trendy clothes and more.