Three make 11 eco-friendly Ganesh idols using 3.55L tissue papers
A trio at Vile Parlecha Peshwa Bal Gopal Mitra Mandal employed tissue paper and bamboo to make Ganesh statues of heights ranging from 11 feet to 22 feetmumbai Updated: Sep 10, 2016 17:48 IST
A Ganesh mandal at Vile Parle rolled out 11 large eco-friendly idols during the festival week, which were sent to different pockets of the metropolis. They employed ingredients that quickened the dissolution of the idols after immersion.
Three people — a senior citizen and his two sons — at Vile Parlecha Peshwa Bal Gopal Mitra Mandal employed tissue paper and bamboo to make Ganesh statues of heights ranging from 11 feet to 22 feet.Running the Ganpati idol-making endeavour at Vile Parle (East), they focused on ecological conservation.
Digambar Mayekar, along with Sunil, 38, and Rajesh, 40, have been making eco-friendly idols since 2008. This year, they used 30,000 tissue papers to make all but one of the 11 idols that were sent to mandals located at Goregaon, Andheri, Jogeshwari, Santacruz, Thane and Kalyan. “One of them was selected as this year’s Mahimcha Raja,” says Mayekar, 65.
Besides, the Vile Parlecha Peshwa made a 22-foot idol from 55,000 tissue papers, which weighed 150kg. “It was seated atop a white horse,” he added.
“The idea is to reduce the use of Plaster of Paris to protect the environment. We intended to use already available resources as much as possible,” said Mayekar. “The idol is important as it takes less time to dissolve in water. It is not harmful to the marine ecology. The bamboo sticks are removed before the idol is immersed.”
While making the idol, Rajesh explained that first, a layout of bamboo sticks were stuck together using natural gum. “With a touch of water, we mixed a large mould of tissue papers and newspapers and placed them on the bamboo sticks. Within three months, the idol’s impression was ready,” he said.
To help the idol dissolve faster during immersions, the trio used water-colours as decorations. “Tissue paper easily absorbs water-soluble colours,” points out Sunil. “They dissolve in flowing water within one-and-a-half-hour and in still water within three hours. Clay idols take more time, and harm aquatic environment.”
The idols that were sent to different mandals were priced between Rs30,000 to Rs70,000 depending upon their size. “We started making the idols immediately after last year’s festival,” said Mayekar. “Next time, we plan to make double the number of idols we made this year. We want the eco-friendly movement to can gain more popularity.”
Marine biologists say paper pulp can be a good option as opposed to clay, but point out that heavy metals employed in the paints are a problem.
“Idols made from paper pulp are relatively safe as compared to other materials due to the cellulose in them,” agrees E Vivekanandan, scientist, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute. “However, lead-based paints used on these idols nullify their effect and are poisonous for phytoplankton’s (underwater plants). The poison is further transferred to fish and higher animals.”
The Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti is getting keener in promoting eco-friendly Ganesh idols in the city. “We are going to appeal to the chief minister to make it mandatory for Sarvajanik mandals to have idols, from next year, made out of paper or clay,” said its president Naresh Dahibhavkar. “The Vile Parle mandal’s model will be shared with other mandals after the festival.”
Paper-pulp idols good for aquatic ecology: study
A study conducted last year by the Maharashtra Nature Park (MNP) society found idols made using 95% paper pulp, where the basic raw materials is cellulose that originates from plants, 4% natural gums and 1% supporting non-toxic materials, takes less time to completely digest in the aquatic eco-system.
“Idols made from paper pulp do not obstruct sunlight penetration underwater. Nor does not kill the natural aquatic vegetation,” points out MNP society deputy director Avinash Kubal. “This, in turn, disturbs the aquatic ecology and oxygen cycle in the water body. That is like clay idols which take time to dissolve, leaving the water murky and harming aquatic life.”
What are true eco-Ganesh idols?
True eco-friendly Ganesh idols are made of natural raw materials and dissolve in water in the shortest possible time. Further, they get back to its natural raw form as quickly as possible. The dissolved idols merge in the aquatic eco-system without leaving a trace of residual materials.