Aslam Syed, a resident of the city of Nashik, Maharashtra, is a skilled turban artist whose services are needed at wedding ceremonies, and political, social, and government events. His four brothers and father are also engaged in the same profession. The family’s livelihood comes from the members' amazing skills in tying a safa (headgear) in many ways.
It was three years ago when a close friend of Aslam was planning to install the idol of Lord Ganapati Bappa at his house during Ganeshotsav. The festival is celebrated with great fanfare and enthusiasm across Maharashtra.
During the tend-day festival, people install the idol of Lord Ganesha at their homes and public places. They offer prayers and also stage cultural shows as part of the celebration. Though the festival is celebrated all over India, it's like the national celebration in Maharashtra.
He bought an idol from the local market and requested Aslam to tie a turban to the idol of Bappa, as Ganesh is called in Maharashtra.
Aslam happily accepted this assignment and within a few minutes, Bappa’s idol was donning an attractive turban.
His act left the idol sellers stunned and overawed. Since then, every year the citizen committees that organized Ganeshotsav at public places in different localities of Nashik like Dongri Maidan, Hirawadi, and Thakkar Dome of Nashik call Aslam to tie the turban to the idols of Bappa.
Aslam uses different styles like Peshwai, Jire, Kolhapuri, Maharashtrian, Rajasthani, etc. for different idols. His clients have to choose between the styles he offers and he happily does the job.
In the ongoing celebrations, Aslam decorated more than 300 idols in just one day at Dongri Maidan.
Aslam has been doing this work with great enthusiasm and happiness for the last three years.
Aslam says, “Idols of Bappa wearing a turban are installed in every house in different parts of the city. This makes me very happy. There is no religion of faith and happiness. Your happiness and also that of others is the most important thing in life. For this very purpose, I do the work of tying the headdress to Bappa's idol.”
The idols of Bappa in the area are decorated with safas ((turban) made by Muslims. The turbans tied in different fashions make the deity more pleasing to the eyes.
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Aslam’s art is appreciated by Hindu and Muslim communities alike. Through his art and skills, Aslam has set an example of religious harmony for all.