When the Rustam Rahivasi Ganeshotsav Mandal at Lower Parel promises to be eco-friendly, they mean it in a way no one else does. Climb the stairs up the Rustam colony building, enter the small pandal and search for an idol — and there isn’t one.
“Yes, our Ganpati is eco-friendly because it is painted on the wall,” said Raju Kamasala, member of the mandal. Wondering how they perform the immersion ritual for this one? “We just wipe the image off with coconut water!”
No plastics, no chemicals, no pollution; just water colour on a cement wall of the building – stroke of genius, you’d think. But this 31-year-old tradition was actually started unwittingly by a resident of the small housing colony, who sketched a Ganesha on a stray blackboard back in 1978.
Good artistry led to worship, the pujas led to the fulfillment of several wishes, and before they knew it, the members of Rustam Mandal were one of the earliest to set the eco-friendly trend. This consistent annual theme is now accompanied by another theme of social relevance.
“This year, our theme condemns the selfishness of man and the corruption it gives birth to,” said Kamasala. It is presented in the form of a meticulously detailed light-and-sound puppet show in front of the Ganesh painting. “Here too, we’ve consciously used only paper and cardboard.”
The 10-minute skit, recorded by voice artistes from within the colony, exposes the consequences of corruption in education, medicine, even the large-scale celebration of Ganeshotsav. “The operators are three of our building’s young children,” said Sachin Shetty, the creator and organiser of the skit.
It has won numerous awards over the years, but it remains a small mandal, with low costs, and visited by only 400 to 500 people a day. “We’ve spent Rs. 10,000 on the pandal this year,” said Ramkrishna Bait, the mandal’s secretary. The funds come from voluntary contributions and some sponsors, and are also used for charitable causes throughout the year.