FOR fifty years now, the family of Mingleshwar Sequeira has been putting heart and soul into crafting idols of goddesses at the Vasai workshop ahead of Navratri. Being from the third generation of artisans who make idols of Hindu gods and goddesses in the family, Mingleshwar believes art has no religion.
“My grandfather used to make Gauri idols and idols of goddesses Durga and Lakshmi for years. After him, the art was passed on to my father and later to us. Me and my brother Benzoni were born and brought up in the Marathi hamlet of Giriz in Vasai and we are well-versed with the Hindu religion,” Mingleshwar said.
As the brothers fashion the idols from wood and fabric, they spend more time on each, and hence take limited orders. Recently, the brothers also made news for affixing eyes made of glass to idols. Unlike other idols that have eyes painted by specialists, the Sequeiras have been importing artificial eye sets from doll makers in Germany.
“A glass eye gives a three-dimensional feeling as one looks at the goddess. Such eyes are tailor-made for dolls in Germany and we try to get these for our goddesses. It gives a better feeling,” Mingleshwar said.
The cost of an idol with glass eyes is approximately Rs 4.5 lakh. According to Mingleshwar, they charge an additional Rs 15,000 for idols with glass eyes.
“For a tall statue of the goddess, the minimum cost is around Rs 4.35 lakh. Small idols are sold at Rs 1 lakh. Our idols are sold to customers based in Scotland, Australia, Europe and Florida,” he said. Mandals in Thane and Umbermali also purchase idols from the brothers whose Gauri idols are the most popular.
“We sell at least five Gauri idols every year during Ganeshotsav. We also design temples, statues and doors when the festive season is not on. My son, who is learning fine arts, plans to take this up as a career,” he added.