Art inspired by Ganesh(a) from around the world

Before I start off with anything else, I must make a confession. I am a southie and hence it only comes naturally for me to refer to the elephant headed God as Ganesha. But my northie friends disagree and give me the look when I refer to Him that way. But hey Ganesh feels like my fashion designer friend’s name, not like the eternally fashionable God himself. So friends, what you call Him is upto you. I am going to stick to Ganesha for the sake of not feeling awkward.

It’s that time of the year when the Hindus all over the world are going to be celebrating the Ganesha fervour with idols, pundals, sweets, rituals and what not. When I was exploring topics to write about this Ganesh Chaturthi, I came across beautiful pieces of art inspired by Ganesha, the elephant headed Hindu God who is believed to be the destroyer of obstacles. And the creators were not just Hindus, not just Indians for that matter. Curiosity occurred and one thing led to the other and this article was born. So here is a collection of Ganesha inspired art and artwork from across the world.

Having grown up in South India and being associated with classical music and dance myself, I know that every single classical arts recital begins with praying to Ganesha. But to come across an Aussie play begin with Ganesha that too strolling through Nazi Germany to reclaim the Swastika was a definite first. Titled Ganesh versus the Third Reich, this award winning play is a cleverly interwoven piece of the story of a young man inspired to create a play about Ganesha to find the strength to overcome the difficulties in his own life. Ganesha in Nazi Germany, well I am buying tickets to this movie!

Ganesh versus third reich

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Ganesha’s sweet tooth is a Pixar pop-arty book by Sanjay Patel (who is part of The Pixar studios and helped animate “Incredibles”, “Monsters Inc.” among others) that features bold, bright and cute illustrations of Ganesha and India. It covers stories of Baby Ganesha’s laddoo-obsessions and his broken tusk that acts like a pen that he ends up using to write the epic poem of Hindu literature, the Mahabharata. This fresh and funny picture book is a must have for your kid’s room and goes like this: “Ganesha is just like any other kid, except that he has the head of an elephant and rides around on a magical mouse.”

Ganesha's sweet tooth

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And then there is Aniket, a young Indian designer who who let his imagination run wild and sketched the lovable deity going all haute couture sporting Nachiket Barve, Masaba Gupta, Kallol Datta labels among others. Well, Ganesha has been a forgiving God and has been portrayed in all modern avatars including those holding laptops and driving bikes but none this glam.

Ganesha goes haute couture

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Ganesha’s beautiful imagery has fascinated sculptors and artists alike. There are numerous sand sculptures, street art and tattoos by artists around the world that feature Ganesha as the hero of their work. I even came across towel art done up like Ganesha. Most of this interestingly is from abroad. A friend of mine introduced me to this artist named Siddhartha Kam Deuri who makes beautiful kettle art among other things inspired by Ganesha. He is also a classical dancer and loves to collect idols of Hindu Gods.

Kettle art by Siddhartha

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I remember the beautiful terracotta Ganesha pendant with matching earrings I picked up in Kolkota once. Ganesha has become such an integral part of jewellery design in India that it feels like it was always meant to be. Influences can be seen outside India too. A Tribe called Ganesh from a brand called Madamem Sqaured features gold, bone and enamel jewellery with subtle fluid designs based on Ganesha.

A tribe called Ganesh

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I am sure most of you have a Ganesha photo at home. But does any of you have a ‘My Ganesha’ frame? Yes, apparently that’s a thing! Venkatesh Ellore carved his unique art form of writing one’s name in the shape of the Ganesha, now popularly known as ‘Akshar Ganesha‘. He has etched the name of several celebrities of the country right from Sri Satya Saibaba to Bipasha Basu using his unique art. It’s truly incredible, check it out!

My Ganesha

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So why is Ganesha a popular muse? Vivek Prabhakar, Founder and CEO of Chumbak told The Hindu: “What makes Ganesha a favourite is that he’s a universal figure. He is a god but is also a symbol of protection. Artists are attracted to him since he has a widespread appeal without any religious bias. We’ve always enjoyed designing Ganesha inspired products at Chumbak. They’ve always been accepted very well and are constantly on our bestsellers list.”

I am sure you own that funky piece of art that is inspired by Ganesha. Do show us what you have at #MyGanesha. Happy Ganesh Chaturthi!

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