Moving away from traditional Plaster of Paris (PoP) and papier-mache idols, a Lower Parel resident has sculpted unique eco-friendly Ganpati idols that transform into plants on pouring water — a symbolic immersion.
With the intention to reduce beach litter after immersions, Dattadri Kothur, 30, started making such idols last year with red soil, organic fertilisers and shadu clay filled with holy basil (tulsi) or ladyfinger seeds.
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.
“After witnessing the haphazard state of beaches every year especially Girgaum Chowpatty that is littered with broken idol parts, I wanted to create an idol that gives something back to worshippers. After a lot of brainstorming, I realised that there could be nothing better than nature itself,” said Kothur, who calls the idols, Tree Ganesha.
During last year’s Ganeshotsav festival, over 2 lakh idols were immersed in city beaches that left 3,059 metric tonnes of waste, which is roughly the amount being sent to the Deonar dumping ground each day.
Kothur said for his idols the immersion is done by pouring water over the idol. “It takes about seven to eight days for the idol to be completely dissolved in the 18x5 inch pots. However, seeds begin sprouting by day five and within a month, the plant is ready,” he said, adding that the holy basil and ladyfinger seeds were chosen because they grow the fastest.
The finished idols adorn a reddish-brown pallet owing to the mix of red soil and shadu clay. The sculptor uses only natural colour to decorate the idols’ eyes. This year, the bookings for the idols started on July 5. After an overwhelming response, he was forced to close bookings in three days.
“I was getting a minimum of 200 calls per day,” he said adding, “We are in the process of making 400 idols. As of now, close to 70 have been completed. After receiving mails from Mauritius, US and all over the country, I have planned over 5,000 idols for next year.”
The 12-inch and 15-inch idols have been priced at Rs 1,800 and Rs 2,200, while the 20-inch idol costs Rs 3,000.
Officials from the state pollution control board said such home-made eco-friendly idols were the need of the hour for saving the city beaches.
“Innovative ideas such as Tree Ganesha will help preserve the cultural aspect of the festival and at the same time protect the environment. However, the survival rate of the plants and the amount of water the idol would require to be completely dissolved needs to be checked,” said PK Mirashe, acting member secretary, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board.