With barely a week before Mumbai resounds with the beats of dhols, people in and around the city are flocking idol-making workshops and retail outlets to find the perfect Ganesha idol. While the Plaster of Paris (POP) idols are still in demand, the rising awareness about the massive damage it causes to the environment, particularly the ocean and marine life, has led to many favouring eco-friendly choices.
You would be surprised at the variety of environmentally friendly moortis or idols are available—red soil and natural clay are popular alternatives to POP. If you too wish to hop on this bandwagon too, here are a bunch of places/brands you can explore.
Also read: Mythological stories that explain Ganpati's love for food
A Ganesha that turns into a tree
Tree Ganesha is brainchild of art director and sculptor Dattadri Kothur, who creates Ganpati idols using red soil (an extremely fertile variety of soil), organic fertiliser, natural colours, and seeds. The damage to environment spurred the young art director to start making these water-soluble seed-carrying idols. Kothur’s Ganpati idols come seated on a planter. Once the festivities are over, instead of taking it to the shore for immersion you need to shift the planter to a place with plenty of light and water. Pour water over the idol and watch it disintegrate. Within a week of regular watering, you will notice tiny saplings growing out of the soil. These idols can be ordered online and picked up from designated shops in Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru.
You can also learn to make such idols at home. Supriya Darekar, a Dadar resident, takes workshops where she teaches people to mould red soil into Ganeshas and seal these with seeds of their choice. The process of immersion is the same as Kothur’s creations.
Where to find:
Treeganesha.com | Supriya Darekar - 09594840777
Also read: Beyond modak - traditional offerings at Ganeshotsav
Ganesha that doubles up as fish food
Here’s a Ganesha that even the fishes will look forward to meeting. In 2015, the Sprouts Environment Trust, a Mumbai-based NGO working towards environment and wildlife conservation, came up with a solution that towok care of the environment without disrupting the regional and cultural practices. They introduced Ganpati moortis that incorporated vegetarian fish food. Sprouts Environment Trust promoted these with a well-thought social media campaign, #GodSaveTheOcean, with Ogilvy & Mather. These nine-inch fish-friendly Ganesha idols are coated with river clay that dissolves in water within four hours and painted with natural dyes such as turmeric, kumkum, multani soil, and red earth.
Where to find:
Sprouts Environment Trust – 09820140254
Also read: Everything you want to know about Ganeshtav
Cow dung Ganesha FTW!
Creativity comes to fore during the Ganpati festival and this idea of using cow dung to make idols is proof enough. We all know that cow dung is the most eco-friendly fertiliser for plants and trees. While most make these idols with just cow dung and urine, there are a few others mix red soil with it. These are finished with natural colours extracted from fruits and vegetables.
Where to find:
Panchgavya Chikitsalaya - 7977728879, 9833629475, 8828691099
Also read: Pandals turned eco-friendly with edible Ganpati idols
A Ganesha idol that you can eat
The concept of chocolate Ganesha came to Mumbai around 2013 and has been slowly and steadily catching people’s attention. Rintu Rathod, a city-based baker, who was motivated to bring a change through her skills says, “The idea was always to make something eco-friendly, and while doing so take an extra step to help people as well. So, by not harming the environment, following all the rituals properly and also feeding [underprivileged] children, I started celebrating the festival in a different way. From sarjan (creation) to visarjan (dispersion), everything is done at home, so that I do not contribute to the rising pollution,” said Rathod in an exclusive conversation with LF . These idols are made by moulding dark and white chocolate and coated with edible paint. The immersion of this Ganesha’s is pretty simple—place the idol in a huge vessel and pour a fair amount of milk over it. Once the chocolate melts, the flavoured milk can be served among friends and family as prasad (offering).
Where to find: