Devotees and artists have some out-of-the-box ideas this Ganeshotsav. Here are some Ganesh devotees who have gone the extra mile to celebrate the festival in an extraordinary manner.
Idols made of cow dung
Keeping environmental concerns in mind and to raise awareness about water pollution, students of KPB Hinduja College of Commerce, Charni Road, along with volunteers of NGO Surbhi Kutir Udyog Foundation have made water-soluble idols from cow manure this year. The money earned from the sale of these idols will be distributed among artisans and villagers to encourage them to adopt and take care of non-milking cows. “To take this social initiative further, the students have undertaken a social media campaign on platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp,” said Dr Minu Madlani, the college’s principal.
“These idols are not as environmentally damaging as the plaster of Paris ones. Besides, when they dissolve, they will provide nutrients to aquatic plants and animals. The idols have been kept for sale on the college premises. Its prices will start from Rs150,” said Madlani.
Eco-friendly ‘spicy’ idol
Keeping with the legacy of making creative eco-friendly idols for the past five years, members of Shree Sai Darshan Mitra Nandal, Malad (West), have made an idol using pulp from discarded newspapers and rice starch. What’s more, the idol has been decorated with Indian spices such as clove, cinnamon, chilly, cardamom and mustard seeds.
Weighing approximately 190 kgs, the idol consists of nine kg clove, 20 kg cinnamon, six kg cardamom, two kg chilly and a kg of mustard seeds.
“It took us over a month to put together the idol,” said Montu Ruia, organiser of the mandal. “The Spice Ganesha idol will also educate children about different spices used in Indian foods. Over the years, we have made idols of wax, chocolate, toy cars, erasers and pencils, among others.”
Donate pens and books, not jewellery
Moving away from the traditional donations such as gold and silver this year, a Ghatkopar-based mandal has asked all its devotees to donate a book and pen during their visit.
Members of Parshiwadi Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, Ghatkopar (West), will be distributing all books and pens they collect through donations among less fortunate students across schools in the city and hand over some of the books to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to distribute them among civic schools.
“We are expecting a minimum of 60 books and pens per day from devotees,” said Onkar Sawant, secretary of the mandal. “We have a small 5-ft idol this year and we want the theme for this year’s celebrations to be the importance of education for all.”
A 6 ft papier mâché idol
Residents of Vikhroli (East), part of the Phirozshah Nagar Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, are the first ones to go eco-friendly and have been celebrating the festival by taking environmentally conscious measures for the past three years. This year, the mandal ordered a 6-ft Ganesh idol from sculptors at Kurla that put together a frame of bamboo sticks stuck together using natural gum. The idol was created using a mash of tissue paper and newsprint as environment comes first for Ganpati organisers.
“The entire pandal has too been decorated using only recyclable material such as cardboard and natural colours. We avoided using any material that could pollute the environment,” said Swapnali Chavan, a member of the mandal, adding, “The idol will be immersed in an artificial pond at Bhandup on the 10th day of the festival.”
Bringing a chocolatey Ganesha
A resident of Santacruz, Rintu Rathod, a baker by profession, has made a 50-kg chocolate Ganesha that stands five-feet tall. While the idol has been made with chocolate, the jewellery and other adornments ave been painted with food colours. This is third consecutive year when she has made the chocolate Ganesha, which is a major attraction for children from her neighbouring areas.
The idol will be immersed in around 100 litres of milk on the fifth day of the festival. “The idea is to share the chocolate milk with underprivileged children from across Mumbai,” said Rathod, who took nearly six days to make the idol.
Idols stuffed with fish food
A city-based group has created an alternative to plaster of Paris, clay and paper mâché idols by sculpting idols from corn and vegetable powder — ingredients that can easily decompose in water and can be food for aquatic organisms — and coloured with organic substances such as turmeric, chandan and geru (coloured soil).
Sprouts Environmental Trust along with college students from Mumbai have made the nine-inch idols as part of the ‘God Save the Ocean’ campaign. “After the amazing response we received last year when we made 120 idols, we decided to increase the number by 40% this year,” said Anand Pendharkar, the group’s founder . “The exterior of the idol is made of clay, but the cavity contains vegetarian fish food. The colour used to paint the idol is natural as opposed to paints on PoP idols that could contain toxic metals.”
The group also trained 200 students from various city colleges to make their own idols this year.
Lower Parel resident Dattadri Kothur has sculpted unique eco-friendly Ganpati idols that are filled with seeds. With 400 idols this year, Kothur’s concept is by far the most unique as he makes them with red soil, organic fertilisers and shadu clay filled with holy basil (tulsi) or ladyfinger seeds that will grow into a plant after immersion. Made atop earthen pots with a base of red soil with size ranging between 12 and 20 inches, each idol is filled with 15 seeds.
“In place of broken idols littered across beaches in Mumbai, I wanted to create an idol that gives something back to worshippers,” said Kothur, who calls these idols Tree Ganesha. It takes about seven to eight days for the idol to completely dissolve in the 18X5-inch pots. However, the seeds begin sprouting by day five. “Holy basil and ladyfinger seeds were chosen because they grow the fastest,” he said.