The 11-day festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with much enthusiasm every year. The festival honours the elephant-headed god Ganpati and is all about elaborate celebrations. Right from the installation of the idol and daily aarti, to prasad offerings and the final procession, locally called visarjan, that involves immersing the idol in a water body.
For several years, this festival has given environmentalists a reason to worry due to the large-scale land and water pollution it leaves behind. Every year, activists advocate celebrating the festival in a way that is friendly to the environment. Various campaigns spread awareness on the eco-friendly steps devotees can take to celebrate the festival, the most important being using eco-friendly Ganpati idols.
In 2018, Living Foodz spotted several pandals across the country that celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi using eco-friendly Ganpati idols. While the materials to make these eco-friendly Ganpati idols varied, our favourites were those made with food items! Here's a look at some of the best eco-friendly Ganpati idols (made with food!) which left us in awe of the creativity.
Pani Puri Ganpati Idol
A popular snacks shop, Ganesh Bhel, in Pune made an idol using one of the most popular chaat items – pani puri. Yes, you read that right. Keeping up with the eco-friendly theme, the Ganpati idol was made using 10,000 puris and bamboo sticks. Artist Prashant Salunke took almost 100 hours to make this eco-friendly Ganpati idol! However, this is not the first time that the snacks shop has used food items to make a Ganpati idol. Back in 2011, Ganesh Bhel made the year's Ganpati idol with all the ingredients used to make our favourite Indian chaat – bhel!
Chocolate Ganpati Idol
To do her bit for eco-friendly Ganpati celebrations, Mumbai-based commercial designer-turned-baker Rintu Kalyani Rathod has been making edible Ganpati idols for years. She makes chocolate Ganpati idols at home and on the last day of the festival, she immerses the edible Ganpati idol in milk instead of water and then distributes the resulting chocolate milk to underprivileged children. She also takes orders and prepares edible Ganpati idols single-handedly to help others celebrate the festival in the same eco-friendly way.
Sugarcane Ganpati Idol
Sathya Sai trust in Bengaluru made a Ganpati idol using sugarcane. Shunning Plaster of Paris, the trust made an idol using around five tons of sugarcane. The making of this idol took a month-and-a-half. The rest of the rituals of this pandal remain the same except for the visarjan. Instead of immersing the Ganpati idol in water, the sugarcane used for the Ganpati idol will be distributed to devotees.
Belgian Chocolate Ganpati Idol
A restauranteur in Ludhiana, Harjinder Singh Kukreja, with the help of 20 other chefs came up with something similar to Mumbai-based baker Rintu Kalyani. The team of chefs prepared an edible Ganpati idol made with Belgian chocolate. The idol weighing 65 kilos is made with chocolate and edible colour. On the last day of the festival, the Ganpati idol will be immersed in a vessel of milk and the chocolate milk will be distributed to underprivileged children. Kukreja has been doing the same for the last three years to reduce food wastage and pollution.
To add a touch of eco-friendly to their Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations, a pandal in Chennai shunned using clay for making the Ganpati idol and used mithai and namkeen to make the huge idol instead. All the devotees from the area flocked the pandal to witness this incredibly huge eco-friendly Ganpati idol which was made with about 300 kilos of mithai and namkeen. It took 20 artists to make this eco-friendly Ganpati idol using food items.
Fish friendly Ganpati Idol
Another eco-friendly initiative that went viral instantly was the #GodSavetheOcean fish-friendly Ganpati initiative by Sprouts Environment Trust. The Mumbai-based non-profit organisation along with ad agency Ogilvy & Mather came up with this brilliant campaign. Wildlife biologist and scientist Anand Pendharkar worked with turmeric, sandalwood and multani mitti to paint the idols made with clay and the hollow part of the stomach was then filled with ingredients such as dried corn, spinach and chickpea powder. Post visarjan in water, the outer part of the idol melts in some time and the fish can consume the mix of food filled in the hollow stomach of the idol.
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