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Going green

Back to nature

With ‘Ganesha Chaturthi’ just around the corner, one can see all kinds of Ganesha idols on roadsides and in markets. While innovative Plaster of Paris idols are flooding the markets, some nature lovers are bringing in a change by creating eco-friendly idols.

There are many who strongly believe that since Ganesha was made out of clay by goddess Parvathi, the celebrations should include idols which are made out of natural products or clay. Madhavi Abhijeet Jadhav, owner of ‘Atharv’ in Malleshpalya, makes colourful idols. She says that clay idols do not harm the environment. “We have a regular set of clients who pre-book the orders, but there are also people who come asking for customisation, which we do according to our moulds,” says Madhavi.

These idols are available in a variety of themes — like those seated on the ‘dhamru’, the cow — and take anything from a couple of hours to a few days to make. “Some of the four-feet idols are replicas of the idol at Dagadusheth Halwai Ganapati Temple, Pune. They are painted with water colours, which dissolve immediately when the idol is immersed in water. The demand for these idols has increased consistently over the years as Bengalureans are getting more aware,” says Madhavi.

For those who think that innovation isn’t possible with clay figurines, there are idols available in a myriad of structures like on the ‘jaswandi’ or the ‘shahi baithak’. Mala Dhawan of ‘A Hundred Hands’, which collaborates with ‘Eco-Exist’ says that there are many options available.

“It is encouraging to find more and more people opting for these idols,” says Mala on a positive note. The idols look attractive as they are painted with ‘multani mitti’, ‘gheroo’ and ‘haldi’. “These make them look festive, yet they do not harm the environment as these are natural ingredients,” details Mala.

There are some who have been selling clay idols for years and are jubilant that Bengalureans are becoming environment-friendly. Simple means safe and sacred for most, emphasise Mangala Narasimhan and Padmaja Sakhamuri from Kamalini Store, Malleswaram.

“We also hold awareness campaigns in schools and localities and strongly believe that change comes from each person. While everyone knows that idols coloured in synthetic paints are harmful for our lakes and the natural habitat around these lakes, there are still people who continue to buy them. Stringent fines and enforcement of rules would help,” says Mangala.

For Sujatha Srinivas, an artisan who sells clay idols on the roads on HAL Airport Road, Ganesha idols have always been in clay. “Everything else is artifical and just commercialised to beautify the festival. I hail from a family which has been into idol making for generations. The only difference is that the idols may not look as cute or grand as the Plaster of Paris ones,” she says. She makes idols that range from 18 inches to seven feet in height. “Also unlike popular belief, clay models are much cheaper than others. We have customers coming for idols from a few weeks to even after the festival ends,” says Sujatha.

The younger generation can make big changes in the society. Going on these lines, Anirudh S Dutt, founder of ‘Let’s Be the Change’, advocates the ‘visarjan’ of clay Ganesha figurines and holds workshops for people to learn how to make these idols. “One can buy around 50 kg of the clay sand from Magadi Road for just Rs 150, unlike the misconception that these idols are costlier. These idols can be immersed into a bucket and poured out into the garden after a day or two,” says Anirudh.

The basics of making the idol are taught at these workshops. One uses a big ball for the body of the idol, a smaller ball for the head, rolls out the trunk and adds panels as ears. He says that when one makes these idols, the sentiments are stronger. “The true spirit of the festival is this,” he sums up.

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