Two years ago, members of the Bal Mitra Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal in Vile Parle, also called Parlyacha Ganraj, saw with horror what they term was a “colossal disrespect” to the deity as the Plaster of Paris (PoP) statues became a mangled mess during immersion. Last year, the mandal resorted to shadu clay. However, not willing to compromise on the size, they ended up creating an 11-feet fragile clay idol that weighed 800kg and needed 35 people to carry.
Wiser this year, the mandal has gone for the papier-mâché technique and installed a 16-feet idol using recycled paper.
“We placed the order in January. The technique involves converting papers into a wet mash and moulding them into the desired shape. For a giant idol, hundreds of layers are used,” said secretary Jignesh Patel, sharing that the idol cost Rs1.25 lakh, opposed to Rs. 60,000 for a PoP idol of the same size.
The aftermath of the immersion of gigantic Ganesh idols has led several mandals in the city to opt for idols that are less environmentally damaging than the PoP ones. Often, such idols are way costlier than the ubiquitous PoP counterparts and require pre-bookings, but these mandals go out for their way for a responsible celebration.
Andheri Eshwar Tarun Mitra Mandal has installed an eye-catching 20-feet idol of Ganesha seated atop Sheshnag, made with tissue papers. A sturdy structure using cardboard and paper is made, on which several layers of wet tissue papers have been pasted. “The structure is hollow from inside, which renders the idol so light that five people are enough it carry it. It’s also not very expensive,” explains mandal member Nilesh Bhojne. “Polluting water is against the spirit of the festival,” he said.
Applying the same technique, Bal Gopal Mitra Mandal, also known as Vile Parlecha Peshwa, has created its 20-feet idol of Lord Ganesha mounted on Garuda, the carrier of Lord Vishnu.
The 23-feet Shadu clay idol at Nikadwari Lane Sarvajanik Shree Ganeshotsav Mandal, popularly known as Girgaumcha Raja, evokes disbelief. But the mandal has exploited a smart technique to counter the fragile nature of the clay.
“Most of the idol is a structure of bamboo sticks, hay and paper, with shadu clay used as the coating to shape the idol,” said Harshad Desai, spokesperson. The idol, he said, cost the mandal Rs. 3.25 lakh, even as a PoP idol of this size is available at Rs. 80,000. “The cost daunts many mandals, but we have never compromised on eco-friendly ways,” said Desai.