PICTURES

These beautiful idols of Hindu elephant god are making their way to homes all across India today

Quartz india
Quartz india

Every year, during the months of August and September, India gears up to welcome the elephant god.

The Hindu festival of Ganesh Chaturthi celebrates the birth of Lord Ganesh, who is considered the symbol of prosperity, good fortune, wisdom and health. He is also known by 108 other names.

Typically, families bring home an idol of Lord Ganesh—the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati—for two to 21 days. The festival, which starts today (Sept. 17) this year, ends with the immersion of these idols in water bodies.

Massive Ganesh’s sculptures are also installed in pandals (canopies) with extravagant decorations. These pandals are open to public and are a common sight in Maharashtra.

In Mumbai, several Ganpatis are decorated with real gold jewellery worth millions of rupees, and Bollywood stars often visit the famous pandals, sometimes with first prints of their upcoming films. A devotee may have to wait for 24 to 48 hours before they can offer prayers at these famous pandals.

Indian artisans spend months sculpting these idols, which are generally made of clay and then decorated with paint.

Quartz brings you a collection of photos, starting from a couple of months before the festival till the day of Ganesh Chaturthi:

An artisan works on an idol of Hindu elephant god Ganesh, the deity of prosperity, at a workshop in Mumbai, India, July 2, 2015. Idols of Ganesh are made two to three months before Ganesh Chaturthi, a popular religious festival in India. During the festival the idols will be taken through the streets in a procession accompanied by dancing and singing, and to be immersed in a river or the sea in accordance with the Hindu faith. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
An artisan works on an idol of Hindu god Ganesh, the deity of prosperity, at a workshop in Mumbai, on July 2. (Reuters/Danish Siddiqui)
Commuters walk through an alley as an unfinished idol of elephant headed Hindu god Ganesh is kept outside a studio in Kolkata, India, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015. The idols are being made ahead of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival that celebrates the birthday of Lord Ganesha. (AP Photo/ Bikas Das)
Commuters walk through an alley as an unfinished idol of Ganesh is kept outside a studio in Kolkata, on Sept. 13. (AP Photo/ Bikas Das)
An Indian artisan gives finishing touches to the idols of elephant headed Hindu god Ganesha in Allahabad, India, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. The idols are in demand ahead of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival that celebrates the birthday of Lord Ganesha. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)
An artisan gives finishing touches to the idols of Ganesh in Allahabad, on Sept. 8. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)
An Indian artisan prepares an idol of elephant headed Hindu god Ganesha in Ahmadabad, India, Thursday, July 9, 2015. The idols are being prepared ahead of the Ganesh Chaturti festival that will be celebrated in September. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
An artisan prepares an idol of Ganesh in Ahmadabad, on July 9. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
An Indian boy sits next to his father as he gives final touches to the idols of elephant headed Hindu god Ganesha in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. The idols are in demand ahead of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival that celebrates the birthday of Lord Ganesha. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
A boy sits next to his father as he gives final touches to the idols of Lord Ganesh in New Delhi, on Sept. 9. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
An Indian artisan paints idols of elephant headed Hindu god Ganesha in Allahabad, India, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. The idols are in demand ahead of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival that celebrates the birthday of Lord Ganesha. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)
An artisan paints idols of Lord Ganesh in Allahabad, on Sept. 8. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)
A street vendor decorates idols of elephant headed Hindu god Ganesha displayed for sale ahead of the Ganesh Chaturti festival in Mumbai, India, Monday, Aug.17, 2015. The idols will be immersed in the Arabian Sea after they are worshipped during the festival that falls in September (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
A street vendor decorates idols of Ganesh displayed for sale ahead of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai, on Aug.17. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
An Indian artisan gives final touches to the idols of elephant headed Hindu god Ganesha in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. The idols are in demand ahead of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival that celebrates the birthday of Lord Ganesha. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
An artisan gives final touches to the idols of Ganesh in New Delhi, on Sept. 9. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
An Indian artist paints idols of elephant headed Hindu god Ganesha being prepared ahead of the Ganesh Chaturti festival in Mumbai, India, Monday, Aug.17, 2015. The idols will be immersed in the Arabian Sea after they are worshipped during the festival that falls in September (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
An artist paints idols of Ganesh being prepared ahead of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai, on Aug.17. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
An Indian artist paints idols of elephant headed Hindu god Ganesha being prepared ahead of the Ganesh Chaturti festival in Mumbai, India, Monday, Aug.17, 2015. The idols will be immersed in the Arabian Sea after they are worshipped during the festival that falls in September (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
An artist paints idols of elephant headed Ganesh being prepared ahead of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai, on Aug.17. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
An elderly Indian Muslim man walks past idols of Hindu god Ganesh displayed on a footpath for sale ahead of ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ festival in Bangalore, India, Monday, Aug. 3, 2015. The festival celebrates the birthday of Ganesh, the elephant headed Hindu god. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
An elderly Muslim man walks past idols of Ganesh displayed on a footpath for sale ahead of Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Bengaluru, on Aug. 3. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
Indians carry an idol of elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha for sale ahead of Ganesha Chaturthi festival in Ahmadabad, India, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. The ten day long Ganesh festival begins on Sept. 17. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
An idol of elephant-headed Ganesh being carried for sale ahead of Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Ahmadabad, on Sept. 15. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
Devotees carry an idol of Hindu elephant god Ganesh, the deity of prosperity, while it is carried to a place of worship in Ahmedabad, India, September 16, 2015. Idols of Ganesh are made two to three months before Ganesh Chaturthi, a popular religious festival in India. During the festival, the idols will be taken through the streets in a procession accompanied by dancing and singing, and will be immersed in a river or the sea in accordance with the Hindu faith. REUTERS/Amit Dave
Devotees carry an idol of Hindu elephant god Ganesh, the deity of prosperity, while it is carried to a place of worship in Ahmedabad, on Sept. 16. (Reuters/Amit Dave)
Devotees carry an idol of elephant headed Hindu god Ganesha from a workshop to a worship venue ahead of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai, India, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015. After worshipping during the ten day long festival, the idol will be immersed in the Arabian Sea. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)
Devotees carry an idol of Ganesh from a workshop to a worship venue ahead of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai, on Sept. 13. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)
Devotees participate in a procession with large statues of elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesh in Mumbai, India, Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. Every year millions of devout Hindus immerse Ganesh idols into oceans and rivers during the ten-day long Ganesh Chaturthi festival that begins from September 17 and celebrates the birth of Ganesh. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
Devotees participate in a procession with large statues of Ganesh in Mumbai, on Aug. 30. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
A devotee uses a wooden rod created as a selfie stick to click photos during a procession with statues of of elephant headed Hindu god Ganesh in Mumbai, India, Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. Every year millions of devout Hindus immerse Ganesh idols into oceans and rivers during the ten-day long Ganesh Chaturthi festival that begins from September 17 and celebrates the birth of Ganesh. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
A devotee uses a wooden rod created as a selfie stick to click photos during a procession with statues of Ganesh in Mumbai, on Aug. 30. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

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