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Brand it like Ganesha

Abhilasha Ojha | September 04, 2004

Preeti Rao, CEO, (commercial), d'Mart Exclusif considers him lucky. Mridu Mohata of Ganga Expressions, a lifestyle store that houses exclusive European artifacts in Kolkata and New Delhi, finds him "endearing and an extremely important part of her life".

Hotelier Lalit Suri is known to be his biggest fan while Kamal Passi of Lotus Herbals group and his wife have paid a hefty price to keep him at their entrance.

Meet Ganesha. The lord Ganesha, who according to Hindu mythology is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Open the doors of any average Indian home and you're bound to see at least one Ganesha idol in every home. He's the vighnaharta -- remover of all obstacles -- and he's becoming a phenomenon.

"A global phenomenon," corrects Nupur Jain, chief designer, Frazer & Haws. Jain has a point. The London-based, 200-year-old company entered the Indian market almost eight years ago and has been successfully designing Ganpati idols in 92.5 per cent sterling silver with tremendous success.

Jain starts designing for the next festive season at least six to eight months in advance and usually brings out nearly 500-600 designs featuring Ganesha in different poses including standing, dancing, seated and lying down.

Now, Jindal Art Glass in collaboration with Soher SA, Spain, has specially designed a Ganesha statue for the Indian market.

"Though the idol was launched during Diwali last year as a limited edition -- there are 300 pieces worldwide -- we received a tremendous response after we showcased our product in exhibitions," says JP Jindal, director, Jindal Art Glass.

The Soher Ganesha is three feet high and is made of special bronze alloy with 24-carat gold plating that ensures the idol doesn't ever lose its sheen.

Mounted on a round marble base, the Soher Ganesha is priced at Rs 151,000 and comes in a dull finish as well as a shining finish. "We've paid attention to tiny details," says Jindal.

A thorough research and complete homework for nearly two years gave birth to the Ganesha idol by well-known Italian company Linea Argentine. d'Mart Exclusif launched Linea Argentine's Ganesha idol and called it Shree Vinayaka.

This 15-inch idol designed in 92.5 per cent sterling silver and embedded with Swarovski crystals was part of a worldwide limited edition of 250 pieces.

While it was launched last year at a price tag of Rs 32,000, today the idol retails at Rs 39,000. "We've sold out almost all the pieces worldwide and the remaining pieces of Shree Vinayaka will definitely get over by this season," says a confident Rao.

Encouraged by the response, d'Mart Exclusif launched 100 limited edition pieces of Vighneshwara -- another name for the Indian deity -- two months ago.

Designed in sterling silver and hand enameled by artisans in Italy this 24-inch idol is treated with an electro-lacquer chemical that ensures it will never tarnish. Priced at Rs 185,000, Vighneshwara, according to Rao, is already finding a lot of takers. "These idols are of very high value and you can almost consider them as an heirloom," she explains.

The company has also launched limited edition of Krishna idols -- 500 pieces worldwide -- besides a Ram Durbar complete with Ram, Sita and Lakshman.

"We have to pay attention to the finest details," says Rao, who admits that in the first sample of Ram Durbar, the Sita idol, by mistake, was shown wearing a noodle-strap blouse.  The Ram Durbar is a special launch for Diwali and is priced at Rs 387,000.

d'Mart Exclusif is also gearing up for Ganesh Chaturthi and is launching a special five feet Ganesha idol in pure marble. And the price? Only Rs 385,000.

Besides, the company has also introduced Ganpati from another Italian brand Ottaviani. A hand-crafted idol embellished with light blue Swarovski crystals, it's priced at Rs 13,750.

"We have received such a tremendous response from our Ganesha idols, that we decided to introduce other Indian religious idols too.

At Ganga Expressions in New Delhi, Mohata is busy displaying the latest collection of Daume, a French company that has launched its three-inch Ganesha idols in coloured and frosted crystal.

From amber to blue, green, pink, white, and purple, the idols also come in eight-inch variations. While the smaller ones are priced at Rs 10,000, the larger pieces are available at Rs 25,000.

While Baccarat and Lalique never had a formal launch of their Ganesha idols in India, a lot of collectors are ordering the limited edition from London.

"Baccarat is pure crystal in gold plating," explains Passi, who has one strategically placed at his home entrance.

The prices of limited edition Ganesha idols are soaring and the Baccarat idol is priced at nearly Rs 300,000. Lladro, the renowned porcelain company that entered the Indian market with its Ganesha idol at Rs 64,000 has resale value of nearly Rs 300,000 today.

"All the 2,000 pieces have been sold out all over the world and people are begging us to find them a Lladro," says Mohata.

Both, d'Mart Exclusif and Lladro will introduce a Krishna idol in November this year, and as Mohata says, "People have started booking Lladro without even looking at the sample. They're so confident after Ganesha's success."

Is it your turn to own a Ganesha?

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