Pillayar Chathurthi:

Vinayagar Chathurthi Craft

Pillayar is termed to be “Mudhal Kadavul” (First God). The birthday of Lord Ganesha is celebrated as “Vinayagar Chathurthi” throughout India. We get to see a lot of Pillayar dolls during this festival. Some buy wet clay pillayar and some buy the idols. Auto stands, Bus stands, Street corners and Temple entrances of Chennai and other parts of the state are raised with Big Pillayar Idols and the whole festival is celebrated grandly for more than a week. Legend says that Ganesha was created by Goddess Parvathi with her Kungumam and Sandanam to guard her outside while she finishes her bath. Lord Shiva returns back from a deep thavam and Ganesha stopped and did not allow him to enter. Shiva severed the head of pillayar out of anger. Knowing the truth Shiva promised the infuriated Parvathi that he will bring back Pillayar alive and informed devas to search and get the head of a dead living being whom they see first on earth. They found an elephant and brought its head. The head was fixed to Ganesha. So let’s see how these dolls are made in Kanchipuram.    

Required Material:

For clay Pillayar idol:




For paper mache Pillayar Idol:


2.Talcum powder

3.Gum prepared

4.Paper Mache Paste

5.Cement cover



Process Clay doll/Idol:

Wet Clay Pillayar idol making:

This type of pillayar you can find with local vendors, where it is a ready to use idol which will be available only on or before the day of Pillayar Chathurthi. To make the clay Pillayar idol first mould has to be prepared. This mould is bought by the local vendors along with clay from the doll or idol sellers. 

Vinayagar chathurthi craftMould of the pillayar doll

And that’s what you get to see in the local markets during festival time. We generally get this raw clay pillayar and decorate it by using kumkum, Sandhanam, vibuthi and flowers.

Vinayagar Chathurthi Craft

vinayagar Chathurthi Craft

vinayagar Chathurthi Craft

On the other side there are few people who buy clay dolls of pillayar in which only the ornaments are painted and kept ready.

Baked Clay Pillayar idol Making:

Modeller does the mould using POP and Cement by first creating the idol in clay. On the created clay idol, cement and POP mixture is poured and let dry to solidify and become a mould. The mould is prepared separately for the front and back parts of the idol. Once the mould is prepared, clay which is procured from the local village is spread and pressed on the mould. After a few minutes the front and back side of the doll is taken out and joined on the sides using clay and water. After joining the front and back mould of the pillayar, the bottom part is filled with wet clay. Now this is let to dry at room temperature. Nearly 100 dolls can be taken out of one mould. Later it is fired in a kiln. To know more about kiln click here to read.  The brown earthy colour turns to a brick red colour after firing. Now this doll is applied with a coat of mixture of gondhu(Gum), Chalk powder and water. Using spray, a basic coat of white oil paint is applied once the doll is completely dried. Finally eyes are hand painted and incase if the idol has any jewellery that is also highlighted using gold paint. These clay dolls are generally 1 or 2 feet in height. This type of dolls are also used during golu festival. 

vinayagar Chathurthi Craft

vinayagar Chathurthi Craft

vinayagar Chathurthi Craft

vinayagar Chathurthi Craft

Paper Mache Pillayar idol/ Doll:

In paper mache, the moulds are done based on the doll features or clay doll moulds can also be used. For making pillayar idol, three moulds are required- Front, Back and Tusk.Paper Mache dough is prepared using paper flour and adhesives.Click here to know how the dough is made. Prepared dough is then rolled flat. Mould is puffed with talcum powder which acts like a grease. Rolled dough is pressed over the mould and excess dough is removed by knife. The pasai (Gum) is applied on the spread dough. Cement packaging cover is made into pieces, dipped in pasai and stuck over the applied pasai. This sheet is used to give gripness to the doll when removed from the mould. The moulds are then let to dry in sunlight.

vinayagar chathurthi craftFront mould of the doll

Vinayagar Chathurthi CraftBack mould of the doll

The dried doll is taken out of the mould.

Vinayagar Chathurthi CraftDried doll taken out of mould

The extras on the side joints are corrected using a knife. The open bottom is covered by cardboard or daily calendar cardboard.

Vinayagar chathurthi CraftOpen bottom of the doll

Correction and final finish is done by hand. Finally the doll is painted using oil paints  by giving white as the base colour.

Vinayagar Chathurthi CraftWhite base painted dolls

So these paper mache dolls are the big dolls that you notice inside pandhal on main street corners and temples. 

Vinayagar Chathurthi craftThe painted vinayagar dolls