Kamptee’s idol makers carving out big names

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 19 Aug 2017 09:41:25


By Praveen Vighre,

KAMPTEE, the suburban town in Nagpur district, is famous for many things -- bidi manufacturing, handloom weaving, military centre and football game.

Now, the latest dimension added to the town is by the first generation idol makers (murtikars). The idol making skills took birth when bidi manufacturing was in full boom. Some of the bigwigs in bidi manufacturing like Seth Ramnath Lohiya, Seth Kesrimal Porwal had started celebrating Ganesh Ustav on a grand scale thus giving an opportunity to the local people for making idols.

They were joined by some big mandals like Agrawal Bhawan, Kamptee Vachnalaya, Shiv Panchyat Mandir, Sindhi Bhavan etc. Vitthalrao Dhenge (known by the name Vitthal Painter), Madhukarrao Karande (Madhu Painter) and Kisan Sontakke (Kisan Painter) started the idol making some 80 years ago Ishwar Sontakke, son of Kisan Painter, the only second-generation painter in Kamptee while talking to The Hitavada said: “I was assisting my father in idol making till 1994. But idol making was stopped after my father’s death. I re-started the work of idol since four years to keep the art alive. Before that, I used to take order for mkaing banners and signboard painting.”

Taking cognisance of his skills, Sontakke has order for making big Ganesha idol from Pardi, Teka-Naka and eight orders from other areas. Vijay Punwatkar, too, had grabbed the attention of the people. He started idol making at the age of 15. He said: “It was in the year 1980 when I was the member of Kamptee Vachnalaya Ganesh Ustav Mandal. The idol of lion was missing in the celebrations. I made the lion in four days as Rambhau Hedao from Nagpur had refused to make the idol of lion. From the next year onwards, I received orders for making idols.”

He said: “It is a God’s gift to me and I am doing my work with my own imagination. My idols had gone to Gujarat continuously for 5 years, Seoni (Madhya Pradesh) and even to adjoining cities.” First, there was the trend of more figures along with the idol of Lord Ganesha. But now times have changed and the new trend had set in since 2002 where people want one big idol of Ganesha. This year, he is having 12 orders of idols above 10-feet height.

“I have an equal number of orders of Goddess Durga, Krishna also. The main 10-feet idol of Hanumanji in Kamptee’s Hanuman Jayanti Shobhayatra is made by me. His art includes the statues of Shivaji at Kanhan and the 22-feet tall Lord Shiva at Mahadev Ghat, Kamptee. He is regularly making idols for Ganesh Mandal in Jaripatka, Kanhan, Kandri, Tarsa and the local Kamptee mandals. His idols had bagged the first prize for several years.

He had also won national award in 2004 in a competition at Wardha. Sachin Durrewar, who is assisting Punwatkar is also an emerging name in idol making.
Sachin Khokre is another name emerging in idol making from Kamptee, who started the work at the tender age of 10 years. “My uncle, who is living in Ajni was my first customer who placed order for Ganesha idol for his home. After that, I started making big idols.

At present, I am having 25 small and big orders,” he said.
Pramod Shendre, who is a BFA by qualification, had also started idol making at the age of 10. “I started idol making at an early age when I was a student. After that, I had completed my BFA in Creative Painting and Photography. Mandals from Koradi, Khaparkheda and locals are my regular customers. I have stopped taking more orders. I am working as a drawing teacher in Edify School.”

Shendre has been the trend-setter in Kamptee’s Ganesh Ustav by starting ‘Kamptee Ka Raja’. His creativity reflects in his work. This year, he is making an unique Lord Ganesha idol with all the astrological signs.

He will also be presenting a scene ‘Maharashtra Maza’ depicting the rich heritage of the State at his own Ganesh Mandal. Apart from these recognised artists, there are many small players who are also taking orders for making Ganesha idols.