Growing up in the Mahabubnagar district of Telangana, T V Sudhakar recalls the immersion of Ganapati clay idols at home.
From age seven until the time he graduated, Sudhakar would wake up at 5 am on the day of Ganesh Chaturthi, bathe and make a trip to the market.
The process was instant. The craftsmen would carve idols out of fresh clay and distribute them to the many takers, including Sudhakar, for a meagre price of 5 paise in the olden days to 5 rupees in 1975. He would take the freshly-made Ganapati idol home and install it. After their round of prayers, the family would immerse it in a water-filled flower pot in the evening.
Once the clay Ganapati dissolved in the water in thirty minutes, the children would plant a sapling.
Even when he shifted to Hyderabad to work for the Reserve Bank of India, the tradition continued. He would take these clay idols from activists who often gave them away for free. But it all changed in 1995 when he decided to shift to the maximum city.
Known for celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi in all its fanfare, Sudhakar recalls his shock at the culture of pre-booking elaborate Ganapati idols in Mumbai.
“My neighbours would place orders months in advance for idols made of Plaster of Paris and pay huge amounts. When I was residing at the RBI headquarters in Mumbai, I could see the idols, incense sticks, puja kits being washed ashore, a day after the immersion. The beaches would then have to be cleaned by the BMC workers and activists,” recalls Sudhakar.
The first year in Mumbai, he spent three hours trying to track a clay idol-seller but couldn’t find any. It was only in 2017 that he managed to track down an idol-maker who used clay in Matunga.
He was immensely happy to have installed the clay Ganapati in his own home after years. It was at this time that he decided to take one step ahead to promote eco-friendly idols in 2018.
A resident of Chembur, T V Sudhakar is the Senior Executive Vice-President and Head Compliance at Kotak Mahindra Bank. He is giving away 1,000 clay Ganapati idols to Mumbaikars for free this Ganesh Chaturthi!
Speaking to The Better India, Sudhakar adds how he placed the order last year with the same dealer, Mr Kasi Viswanath in an attempt to encourage people to go green with these clay Ganapati idols to curb pollution.
“It is solely the intricate work of bare hands. These clay idols range between 12 to 14 inches and do not contain any chemicals or polluting toxic elements. Even the paints used are free from lead and mercury. When I placed the order last year, the dealer told me how it was the biggest order he had received till date and would take at least ten months to be made and shipped from their workshops in Chennai,” shares Sudhakar.
The Mumbai resident shelled over Rs 1.5 lakh from his pocket for the making, and shipping, which he says is only a small contribution towards the larger cause of conserving mother nature.
How to avail of this free clay Ganapati?
If you are a resident of Mumbai and want to procure the green Ganapati idol, got to www.clayganapati.com and register. It is on a first-come-first-served basis. Sudhakar has already received 300 registrations.
The man has allotted two days, i.e. September 12 and 13 when people can visit his home in Chembur to pick up the idols. They will also be given a sapling with the idol to plant, once the idol is immersed.
He states, “If this initiative turns successful this year and we find 1,000 takers for the idols, I will implement it in more cities.”
When I ask him what if he doesn’t find enough people to avail of the free idols, he quickly laughs and says, “I will go and stand in Dadar market alongside many other Ganapati idol-sellers and tell people that they are for free. So they can take them.”
His family has been supportive of his initiative, he adds.
He says, “I told them if we get 1,000 people to register, we will all have to stand in a queue outside our building gate and start distributing these idols. So, they are thrilled about the distribution day. Many of our friends, neighbours and relatives have also registered and are helping us make the initiative a success. I feel this is the divine work of nature and Lord Ganesha. So they will take care of it.”
In his final message to Mumbaikars, Sudhakar says,
“I just want to tell people to be responsible. We ought to protect nature if we want to pass her down to our future generation in her best form. Today, people are cutting away trees without sparing a thought to how long they take to grow. In the name of devotion, we are immersing idols that pollute our water bodies to no end. What are we achieving? We are neither fulfilling the purpose of devotion nor the environment. Using a clay idol may be a small step, but if done on a large scale, it could help us cut down environmental damage in the long run.”
If this story inspired you to avail of the free clay Ganapati in Mumbai, register at http://clayganapati.com/ or write to T V Sudhakar at email@example.com or contact him at 9819700384 / 8879696065.
Representational Feature image credit: Tryst with the Shutter Bug
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)