Green Ganesha: Changemakers of Pune
More and more citizens are showing willingness to alter traditions associated with the Ganesh Festival out of a sense of responsibility and consciousness towards the environment.Updated: Aug 31, 2017 11:18 IST
Rather than pollute the rivers, the options before citizens include going in for clay (shadu) idols instead of Plaster of Paris (PoP) material and installing permanent idols made from metal, glass or fibre which are not immersed. Meet the families of Pune who are contributing to this positive trend.
Install a long-lasting metal idol
Mehtas have been worshipping the same Ganesh metal idol for over four decades now. They bring out their Bappa out of the home mandir on the first day of Ganeshotsav and put him back after the 11th day.
The family does no visarjan (immersion) or loud decoration. Amita Mehta’s mother-in-law started this ritual at the Mehta home. Amita shared, “We have a small temple at home which resides all our deities. Now, Ganesha holds a special spot and during Ganeshotsav he is taken out and placed on a new seating with an emerald neckpiece around his crown.
A puja is conducted where he is offered ‘panchamrut’, applied gulal and the other rituals are followed.” She has been praying and performing the Ganpati puja every year during Ganesh Festival for the last 40-45 years. She makes ‘churma ladoo’ for Ganpati on the first day. She hand stitches the new cushion cover and shawl for the deity.
The family, then, gathers and offers ‘aarti’ twice a day to their beloved deity on all 11 days. “There is no visarjan (immersion) or any other ceremony. We keep it simple by just worshipping him. The idea is to have faith in the Lord and be a good human being. Faith is important and not the type of idol,” she added.
The family also stresses on the environmental angle and is happy that in a small way they are able to make a difference.
There are many other families and individuals in the city who follow this tradition. Durva Deshmukh added, “We started using a metal idol after realising the impact of visarjan (immersion) on our rivers. It was essential to make a change in our ways and I am happy that people have started to do so."
Idol from reusable items
In the Datar household, nothing gets thrown out. Everything is reusable and even the Ganesha that Mukund Datar creates is made out of such things. A commercial artist by profession, his Ganesh idols are unique.
This year, Datar has created a Ganesha using lamps, which we often use in our homes. The head is made out of a hurricane lantern, its trunk is made out glass of the hurricane lantern, the body is made out of the old temple glass handi and the hands are made out of ‘samai’ (lamps), hanging lamp and torch. The folded legs are old style Kandil, while the ears are out of ‘panch aarti’ (lamp).
In 2005, Datar first made his unusual Ganesha. “Since childhood I am used to making Ganesha idol as well as decoration. But I was fed up with it, so I thought what else I could do.
“We all have a lot of unused utensils, so I thought of getting them all out and created a Ganpati out of it. This was the first time that I used stainless steel jugs, glasses for an idol. Then, I thought people talk about finding God in everything, hence, next year I tried to find him in crockery and that’s how it began,” said Datar.
Datar has used bamboo, gramophone, fresh vegetables, pots, musical instruments (he plays the table and borrowed other instruments from his orchestra friends), motorbike parts (this Ganesha was 3.5-foot tall), building construction material, weighing instruments, and 12 sporting accessories also became a form of Ganesha.
“All these things are things that we use in our daily life, it’s all there, we just to need to think beyond their use and may be use a little creativity,” he said.
“Nowadays, even the Government is talking about going ecofriendly, and by using reusable every day things, we can also do our bit in saving our city and making it a pollution-free city,” adds Datar, who also conducts ecofriendly Ganesha workshops to help people understand the importance of preserving nature.
Fibre Ganesha at home
Two years ago, the Phadnis family decided to get rid of the immersion process and went for a permanent solution. Being an avid follower of Srimant Dagdusheth Ganpati, they searched for a Dagdusheth Ganpati idol in different shops and came home with a beautifully decorated fibre idol.
“We wanted to avoid pollution caused by using PoP idols. We tried for clay (shadu) idols but we find it difficult to get Dagdusheth Ganpati idol made of clay. So, we also gave a thought to install a PoP idol permanently.
“However, it’s not easy to maintain. The colour fades and there is a risk of breaking or cracking. So, we ruled out that option. Finally, we bought a fibre idol,” said Arun Phadnis.
The idol came with a transparent glass cover, so it’s easy to keep it safe from dust. Every year on Ganesh Chaturthi, they take out the idol from the glass cover and install it in the ‘Devghar’. On the fifth day, they again put it in the same box and keep it secured.
“Some people claim that the idol should be immersed as per the tradition but I don’t think so. In fact, I believe that we get blessings of our beloved Bappa throughout the year,” he said.
A rare glass Ganesha
Konlade family in Karvenagar has been worshipping a unique glass idol for generations. This eight-inch beautiful idol was bought by Ravindra Konlade’s father in 1945. Since then they have been installing the same during Ganesh Festival.
Although they have to take care of the idol and keep it away from kids, it is as good as new even after 72 years.
“It’s a really unique idol. As per my information, there are only three such idols in Pune. I have seen one idol at the Suvarna Smriti office in Deccan, and don’t know the whereabouts about the second one. Being so precious, we don’t keep it in our regular mandir and have created a secured space particularly for the idol,” said Ravindra Konlade.
The family also follows a unique tradition for the Ganesh Festival. Along with the glass idol, they bring a new clay idol every year. After festival, they keep it for next year. Then again bring a new idol and immerse the previous one. This has been going on for traditions. So every year, they have three idols at their home during the festival.