This Ashadhi Ekadashi on 27th July, Pune will see an iconic 21 feet tall statue of Lord Vitthal being unveiled as a permanent installation on the open land at the picturesque Upper Katraj Lake enclosure. We spoke to the man who gave shape to this idol and made the idea come true.
Sculpting is not only an art for the Khedkar family, but a way of life. Sandeep Khedkar has been making idols and figurines out of clay and metal since he was assisting his father as a child. Today, he is working on a project very close to his heart and is creating a 21 feet tall statue of the beloved Lord Vitthal.
It all started when Katraj corporator Vasant More was urged by the locals to establish a permanent Vitthal temple in the area. More took the idea forward and decided to erect a grand statue that will add value to the beautiful surroundings.
As the idea took hold, More’s search for a reputed artist who will take up the massive project ended when he saw the vast experience and expertise that Sandeep Khedkar had in making artistic sculptures. Khedkar explained, “I was approached with the idea of making this idol and I agreed immediately. Our work has been going on in full swing since the past five months and now almost 90% of it is complete. We will soon move the statue to the final location and give it the final touches before it is unveiled on the 27th July.”
The task at hand is massive and delicate at the same time, but Khedkar is surefooted about his work. Having first made a miniature clay model as a representation, Khedkar and his team of five people built the fiber and metal frame that will act as the support for the idol. After all the hard work, this idol now weighs about a tonne and will have to be assembled on the location in two parts.
Sandeep Khedkar believes it is projects like these requiring a lot of faith and devotion that truly inspire him to keep up his family legacy of sculpting. Reminiscing about the earlier days when he only made idols out of Shadu clay, he concludes with a heartfelt message, “Buy real clay idols as far as possible. Firstly because it is eco friendly and secondly, making sculptures from real clay is not easy. If more people buy such idols, it will certainly promote the fine craftsmanship of artists like me and keep the delicate art alive.”