Dancing Ganesh




























Dancing Ganesh


 “Ganesh”, Lingaraj Temple, Bhuvaneshwar, Orissa:

By Remigius de Souza, Pencil on paper (7.00” x 10.00”)


Ganesh in this graphic is deep relief carved in stone, on the side wall of Lingaraj Temple. He is larger than full (human) size. While watching the sculpture I was so moved that for a moment I felt Ganesh was moving: I called him “Dancing Ganesh”.

There, of course, are number of dancing Ganesh statues. The folk artists have made them in clay in great numbers. For the annual Ganesh festivals, the folk artists make the clay idols for generations which may count in thousands of thousand.

This very action, of making an idols in clay by the folk artists by pouring their soul, heart and labour by the folk artist, bringing the idol by the devotees, living with Ganesh, bidding farewell chanting ‘O, Ganesh, come next year soon’, and finally the immersion of the idols in water, is like singing and dancing – the performance is now there, now vanished – in the eternity.

This whole action described above is not like a copy in CD/DVD of dance and music or on a cinema or TV screen.  The original graphic is in pencil on paper, which after decades has yellowed, shall crumble; what we see on the monitor screen is not the real one. One can’t catch the mystery of this action in words or reproduction in a movie.

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 Vatsala Bhojane, a young woman, was my neighbour next door at my native village. She was called Vachcha. Every Ganesh festival she would sing and dance before Ganesh at another neighbour’s house. She would lead other women, and they danced in circle. We, children huddled around against walls. Women and girls also played “Fugadi”, “Zimma”, “Kombada”, which are vigorous dances, before Ganesh.

 These have been memorable nights, and days. There was no electricity then. In the quiet light of the vegetable oil lamps, along with the dancing women, their shadows also danced on the lime washed mud walls. We never realised when the midnights passed.   

 Vatsala, in songs, recited mythological stories of Damayanti – Nal, Shankuntala – Dushyant, Raja Harishchandra etc. I don’t know from whom, from where she got these songs, or whether she composed them on the spot, which is likely, like the thousands of folk artists all over the country. There were no books of these songs.

 Her voice has been the most melodious I ever heard. I don’t compare the most popular and celebrated singer Lata Mangeshkar, because I have heard her only on the loudspeakers and electronic gadgets. Like Vatsala’s voice, her skin had lustrous healthy shine on dark tan colour. I have often heard her singing popular Marathi songs from plays and cinemas. Well, there was radio or gramophone in our village then. Once in a year or two a passing circus or touring talkies would camp near a market place, where we heard the recorded songs of their loudspeakers.    

Remigius de Souza