Ganeshas in mud, seed and chocolate
This year, Ganesh Chaturthi witnesses more eco-friendly idols in the wake of the pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic seems to have diminished this year’s Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. With multiple restrictions in place, businesses have taken a hit. This includes the sale of idols, which is the staple of the festival. However, while traditional potters and sculptors are banking on last-minute sales, there appears to be renewed interest in eco-friendly idols.
Anagha Sree, 13, is more excited about Ganesh Chaturthi this year than usual. For the first time, she, along with her family, will be praying to a clay idol they moulded at home.
“Marigold seeds are embedded inside the idol. So, after we are done praying, we’ll plant the seeds,” she said. This, according to her, is more environment-friendly than the traditional immersion of idols (usually made of Plaster of Paris and other pollutants) in water bodies.
Anagha was among 85 participants in Darpan Foundation’s online ‘Do It Yourself Ganesh idol workshop’. The organisers had sent fresh clay and basic moulding tools to the participants and showed them how to mould the idol.
Deepa Chacko Pillai, a volunteer at Darpan Foundation, said, “The idea of the workshop was to bring together kids and adults to make their own idols so there’s more involvement and enjoyment. Through the materials we used to make the idols, we wanted to highlight environmental sustainability.”
She added, “We even had a live puppet show online, wherein the puppets were made of cloth, cardboard and other recycled material.”
Online sale picks up
Vinay Prashant, co-founder of Tamaala Art Merchandise, has observed an increase in online sale of idols. Two aspects of Tamaala’s sales this year, however, interest him.
“One: over 95% of the 5,000 Ganesha idols we sold this year were via online. Our online sales in previous years have been just about 30%. Two: There’s been an increased demand for eco-friendly idols.”
Vinay says, “Most of the people who got these eco-friendly idols were youngsters. And, they belong to the generation that believes in sustainability.”
With restrictions in place, families are looking at different ways to immerse their idols. Some might immerse in milk as they have bought idols made of chocolate.
Priya Jain’s Mishikrafts has sold about 75 idols made of chocolate (of up to 400g), including a few to customers in Mumbai and Hyderabad. These choco idols, Priya says, can last up to 15 days. “Instead of the usual immersion in ponds or lakes, you can immerse your idol in milk and distribute it to your loved ones as prasad,” she says.