This year, bring a Ganesha that turns into tulsi

Green idol

Vinay Prasahant and Suvarna Kamakshi at Studio Tamaala in JP Nagar. DH Photo/S K Dinesh

This Ganesha festival, you can bring an idol that need not pollute a lake after immersion but would rather sprout a holy basil (tulsi) plant.

Following the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board’s (KSPCB) ban on polluting Plaster of Paris (PoP) idols, Bengaluru is inching towards greener celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi. 

‘Tamaala’, a collaborative art initiative based in JP Nagar, has come up with an eco-friendly option they call ‘Plant Ganesha’ — an organic clay Ganesha idol that will sprout into a basil plant after immersion. Their idols come in four forms — ‘Edamuri’, ‘Balamuri’, ‘Tilak’ and ‘Vibhuti’ Ganesha.

The co-founders of ‘Tamaala’, Suvarna Kamakshi and Vinay Prashant, explained that the idols were traditionally made with soil for centuries and all the finery and colours were added much later. “No colour is truly organic, apart from natural dyes that don’t really stick on clay,” they said.

Their idols are made with pond clay from local water bodies around the city. The duo collaborated with local artisans that have moved away from their traditions towards urban jobs. In an effort to provide a platform for Indian handicrafts, they use rural arts and techniques with a contemporary twist to appeal to urban customers.

After last year’s success where they sold around 500 idols, ‘Tamaala’ is planning to produce 1,000 idols this year, sourcing services from potters in Kanakpura, Ramnagar, Magadi and Jigni and Jakkur village. Pond clay from these regions has elasticity and is free from chemical impurities which makes it easy to dissolve in water and helps the seeds in the idol germinate and grow well. It also helps that basil plants are low maintenance and need only regular watering to flourish.

“After immersion, the idol will dissolve in less than an hour. You just need to pour the entire contents in a pot of soil and the seeds will germinate within 10 days. All our idols come with instruction cards,” explains Suvarna.

‘Tamaala’, currently working with 115 artisans from around the country, focuses on creating dynamic links between local artists and the public. They will conduct a Ganesha-making workshop on August 25, so people can make their own idols for festivities.

“Ganesha is the god of new beginnings and is loved by all. Let this Chaturthi be a new step towards a sustainable and holistic lifestyle,” said Vinay.

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