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Mumbai: As the second week of September begins, people in different parts of the country are getting ready for one of the grandest festivals of India, Ganesh Chaturthi. Streets are specially cleaned for setting up Ganapati pandals, sweets are being prepared, authorities are gearing up for safety rules and people are excited to bring home Ganapati idols. Amidst the fervor and celebration, the issue of water pollution will be overlooked yet again. Once again, an irreversible damage will be caused to our seas, lakes and oceans.
In a bid to minimise the environmental damage, a group of volunteers from Bengaluru are conducting workshops on how to make Ganapati idols at home that are free from Plaster of Paris (PoP), toxins and non-biodegradable chemicals. The volunteers have tied up with local potters to teach people in schools, societies and corporates the art of making a Ganesh idol with clay.
The idea of the workshops came after my family and friends expressed their wish to celebrate Ganapati festival in a green way. That is when I realised that people are ready to give up idols made from PoP provided an alternative is available. Thus, I got in touch with a local potter gathered a few interested locals and circulated the message on WhatsApp. After we received a positive response we first conducted the session in my building to test it, says Rishita Sharma, founder of Green Utsav, a venture that organises zero waste events.
Advantages Of Clay Ganapati Idols
Before jumping onto the process, it is important to understand the significance of clay as an environment-friendly material. Idols that are) made from clay naturally decompose within a day or two unlike the idols made from materials like PoP that take years to degrade thus causing severe pollution. No kind of paint is used on clay idols thereby eliminating the toxic chemical from being submerged with the water and endangering several aqua fauna. Once the clay dissolves in water it can be used for irrigating the plants.
In the name of eco-friendly Ganesha, people often don’t realise that the idols they get have PoP in them which are again harmful to our environment. After celebration, clay idols can be immerse them into a bucket of water and that water can be used in plants. 10 days celebration for Ganesh Chaturthi should depict ‘how nature follows a cycle’. Immersion gives us a lesson as to how everyone has to return to nature, says Rishita.
How To Make Eco-Friendly Ganesh Idols From Clay At Home
The workshop organised by Rishita and her team goes on for one hour and it involves eight steps which are as follows:
Step 1: Take clay and mix it well in water to make a nice dough. Divide the dough into pieces.
Step 2: Take one of the four pieces, flatten it and make the base of your idol. Use a ruler to smoothen the edges.
Step 3: Make a goof-ball sized torso of the idol and use a toothpick to join the body and base of the idol. In case a toothpick isn’t available, use 2-3 drops of water to stick the two.
Step 4: Make four long rolls to make legs, arm and trunk of the idol. Take two rolls, flatten the end of the rolls outwards and stick them onto the torso of the idol. Take one roll, wrap it around the idol right above the legs and flatten one of the sides upwards to make it look like a blessing. Create palm for the idol. Carefully carve the fingers and the thumb on it.
Step 5: Take another piece of clay and roll it in the shape of a ball and place it over the body. That is the head of the idol. Take the final piece of long roll and place it in the middle of the head. Depending on your choice, make the trunk curvy. You can also give a pointy look to the end of the trunk.
Step 6: Make small size balls for ears, eyes and ladoos. Use 3-4 drops of water for each of them and finish final touch. Stick the ears and flatten them out. Stick the eyes and place a ladoo on the hand.
Step 7: Make intricate designs on the idol. Use clay sculpting tools to make dhoti. If you don’t have one use a spoon or a knife. You can also place a stole on one of the shoulders. This way you can ensure that the hand has got a firm grip. Add extra clay on the back and seal the gaps.
Step 8: Give final touches and place the Ganapati idol in leafy bowl or any other reusable bowl.
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