Chat with an Artist: Karki Bhandaris

After the month May  anybody visiting  Bhandari’s houses  in this little  town Karki of Uttarakannada district  , has to  pass through narrow passages between the Ganesha idols . Most of the family members  are busy with  Ganesha idol making  activities  .

 Manjunath Bhandari  who is one of the family member ,  says  don’t know exactly who started making Ganesha idols in their family . This  art  has come long way through  generations . Before Ganesha festival  celebrated as  National festivals  Karki Bhandari’s made  idols for only  neighboring  houses, relatives and friends  but  now they are making these idols for public places as well.


 If  asked  Mr Bhandari how  did he learn,  he shows  his brothers and kids of the family who are busy with either working on idols or helping their fathers and says  ” that is how I learnt ! “

” We make idols and sell them . We don’t do extra idols . Mostly all of  the idols are  ordered  in advance . Orders start from the month of April to even  two days before festival. But we carefully accept only few to our capacity.  People come here with different requests. Some requests turn  out very funny   but we have to do it to keep the art alive and popular.” says Manjunath .

For Bhandaris idol making is not livelihood . Idols are required only during festivals and not round the year. They have their own business such as farming, grocery shops . Some are even work in government offices  but after coming home they continue the art during  demand time.


“We are not born artists. We do not have idea of shapes and colors. We practiced this by observation . Elders inspire the younger generation and they continue.  We have to do everything right from collecting the clay from distant place to buying paints , making idols , painting them everything. Apart from this we have to do other family requirement as well.”

Today public  festivals in India are not simple old style get-together-have-fun   events. They are now more of a stress busters, social and religious  movements, organizing and  politically motivated  events .More people, schools , organizations , political parties , NGOs are celebrating the festivals in their own style. There was day when festival would mean happy, fun, relatives, heavy colourful lunch. But today  a public festival means noise, processions, traffic jams, rising prices , fights . People  need everything fast and at cheaper price. So obviously the artistic handmade natural clay idols are  loosing their values and moulded plaster of paris  idols which are faster and cheaper  taking over this art.

Manjunath Bhandari says ” few years before I used to give so much time to make the idols look artistic . For example the ornaments of idols look so natural and divine . But today people demand  for speed and less money which is not good for the future of art. A good Ganesha idol will have perfect ratios , heavily ornamented thrones , jeweleries much more.”


‘this year my right arm  is operated for a frequent pain  and advised  not to work too much  but how can I not do idols this year ? Between pain I am doing this .One of  my family member    Bhandari is a station master at Konkan railway . He really need not make idols but you can see still he is busy with making idols and  today is his night shift at station! ”  these  two examples  were sufficient to show how dedicated are Bhandari families on making idols.

 In the middle of fading  art and booming  technology the younger generation in Bhandari’s families still promising.  One can see daughters ,sons helping  their elders to finish the idols. Bhandaris are still confident that though the demand has changed but  it is not dead.

” I cannot assure this art has a future for our younger generations.  Kids have more options these days . They can go to colleges , become engineers , doctors,  do masters and earn money in lacs  and why should we stop them and say learn how to make Ganesha idols and earn through . Can you imagine the difference ?” Asks Mr. Bhandari.


He was totally right. Why one should opt a harder way when  there is a easy way  which is  study well and get a good job in cities .For those who are already earning it is easy to say “to keep the art alive ”  ! But is it really possible for a young kid to take  art against heavy earning engineering or doctor ?

 We  need little more responsibility to recognize the art and encourage them. People should demand artistically superior idols though it costs a little more.  Artists are always encouraged  when their art bought for a good value. Felicitating an artist do  encourage but buying their art will encourage them more and demand more  contribution from them.

My other ” Chat with an artist”  articles

Chat with an Artist: G D Bhat

Chat with an Artist: M V Hegde 

Chat with an artist: Omkar Havaldar


11 thoughts on “Chat with an Artist: Karki Bhandaris

  1. Hi Dinesh,

    Wonderful job : As we can observe many peoples thinks about their
    reputation even to communicate with comman man.
    I liked the way u approach and communicate so that
    sharing the happiness of the work with others

  2. Hi Dinesh..their talent..and the genes passing on from generation excellent…and your effort of giving an insight in to the wonderful art commendable..

  3. Very nice article and photos. Karki family should continue this art and preserve like any girl in a family learns cooking from her mother irrespective whether she is an engineer or a doctor.

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