Ganpati festival goes green, artists create 22ft high idol with paper and mud.

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Mumbai:The Ganpati festival gets greener as more people sign up for getting an eco-friendly idol. While some are conducting workshops on making the idols using environment-friendly material, others are distributing green idols for free.
Even as the major pandals in Mumbai always compete for the biggest and best Ganpatis, a famous pandal in Lalbuagh has decided to lead by example. Instead of getting a massive idol made out of plaster of Paris, this year Tejukaya Ganpati Mandal in Lalbaugh will be made out of biodegradable components.

The 22ft huge Ganpati idol will not use any thermocol or plastics; decoration will also be of paper, cotton etc.In fact, the mandal has asked the devotees not to bring agarbatti and flowers for idol. Instead, they have been asked to donate pencils, pens, notebooks and similar things which can be donated to flood-affected areas of Kolhapur and Sangli. The mandal, which is now in its 53rd year, believes that saving environment in need of the hour.

Idol maker in Matunga Sagar Chitale, who only makes eco-friendly Ganpatis, says that even though it is a long and costly process but it is worth it if it helps save the environment.It is a lengthy procedure. I started making the idols soon after Navratri. The price of the idols is more than that of the plaster of Paris, but yes, if one has to save the environment it is nothing.

Good thing is that the people are getting aware and there is a huge demand for paper Ganpatis. Big Ganpatis too can be made of paper and they do not harm the environment at all. The jewellery part is too made paper and we don’t even use nails and instead use gum and small wood. The government too should help in the initiative and provide a place to make such idols. There will be at least 2,000 pandals in Mumbai during Ganpati festival and if you add the household Ganpatis, the number of idols to be immersed in the Arabian sea shoots manifold.

Even as the BMC builds small ponds across the city for idol immersion, very few people use it. Besides the huge Ganpatis usually kept by the pandals cannot be immersed in the ponds. Thus, most idols end up at the sea.

The chemicals from the colours and mix of the idols cause serious damage to aquatic animals. During the last year’s festivities, the Mumbai coastline was lined with dead fish, water snakes and turtles. This also hampers the state economy as the sea is one of the major sources of food in Maharashtra.

Eco-friendly Ganpatis are a sure way of ensuring that they do not end into a pile of garbage at the sea or pollute it, causing irreversible harm to aquatic ecology.

This year, taking the eco-friendly Ganesh one step further is Dattadri Kothur who has come up with a unique idea. The Tree Ganesha is a novel concept where the idols are made of clay and plant seeds are mixed in them. So, after the festival, you can pot the idol and water it, to get a tree Ganesha. The type of seeds he puts in the idols are those which can easily be taken care of, like ladies finger.

Dattadri had used his clay idols to convey social messages before, about environment and traffic safety and pollution. It is people like Dattadri who help us see beyond the pomp and show of the festivals and spread lessons of a better lifestyle.

During festivals it is easier to forget our responsibilities towards the ecology, but those are the times which affect it the most. Therefore, make merry by eradicating pollution.