Friends of the earth

eco-friendly efforts: Students of Vasavi Public School in Shivamogga with clay Ganesha idols.

It is common for elders to advise children to conserve environment, though not much action happens on the ground. In Shivamogga, self-motivated students of Vasavi Public School have set an example for others. They are creating awareness among people about the need to celebrate Ganesha festival in an eco-friendly manner by offering practical solutions. For the past six years, the students here have been selling clay Ganesha idols during the festival season. Besides, they even ask people to immerse the idols in artificial ponds on the school premises to avoid pollution of waterbodies.       

This year, over 60 idols of Ganesha in three designs, measuring 12 inches each, were sold in the school premises during the festival season. Every year, students take out a procession by keeping the idols in pushcarts to create public awareness. They also hold placards and banners highlighting the importance of eco-friendly idols during the procession. The idols are priced at Rs 100. An artificial pond is created in the school campus for people to immerse idols. This was the seventh year the clay idols of Lord Ganesha were sold at the school. 

Vasavi Vidya Samsthe Secretary S K Sheshachala says, “The students started this effort in 2012. We encouraged them to make idols using clay.” In 2012, they had prepared around 60 idols under the guidance of an idol maker. People, though appreciated the effort, didn’t come forward to buy the idols as they found the shapes unattractive. As a result, only 20 idols were sold that year. The years after that, they kept clay idols made by expert artisans and people reciprocated positively. Following public demand, the number of idols increased to 40 in 2015 and 60 in 2017. “People have realised the importance of ‘green’ Ganesha idols and are purchasing them enthusiastically,” say students. 

Students Shreya G Shet, Tisha K Jain, Safaq Teeje and Jameel Ahmed C M, all studying in Class 10, are members of the core team this year. Shreya says that apart from selling the idols in the school premises, she has motivated several of her friends  and relatives to purchase eco-friendly idols. Tisha states that though the festival is not celebrated at her home, she finds satisfaction in educating people on minimising the pollution level. Both Safaq and Jameel express their happiness for being part of the eco-friendly Ganesha festival celebration. 

“This effort has made a huge impact on us. Our children insist on not purchasing plaster of paris idols. They are educating and convincing us in this regard,” says Sunil Kumar K N, a parent. Many other schools have also been motivated by this effort and are making clay idols. The school management is planning to door deliver the Ganesha idols from next year onwards to reach out to more number of people.

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