Ganesh Chaturthi is almost here. The ten-day festival unites people from across communities, as they dance to the beats of the dhol, tasha and lezims, together.
However, before Ganesha “arrives,” devotees get busy collecting funds for their public mandals, deciding upon the decorations and booking their idols. This year, the festival is going to be extra special. With the public becoming increasingly conscious about the fragile state of the environment, many are doing their bit to ensure that they only opt for eco-friendly idols and decorations. Taking this thought forward, many mandals have also decided to join the bandwagon and go green.
Here’s a list of six such mandals-
1. Om Shanti Mitra Mandal, Mumbai.
When the members of this mandal got together to make plans about the celebrations, discussions revealed that a four-foot-tall idol would cost them about Rs 10,000 if it was made of PoP (Plaster of Paris), and Rs 35,000 if made of shadu clay.
After comparing the monetary costs against the environmental costs, the organisation decided to give handmade idols a try this year.
Following this, some members suggested that they build the idol themselves, so Mahendra Wakchaure, Prashob Kodappully, Akash Sanjay Kadam and Ashwin Patel took the initiative to buy required material, learn about sculpting and created a beautiful idol all by themselves.
“Earlier, we were a little apprehensive if the idol would come out well, but around August, when we got the idol to look like we expected, we were sure that we could take it to the mandal.
We all love it so much that we don’t want to conduct the visarjan (immersion) of the idol…” Prashob told the Hindustan Times.
Speaking to The Better India, Ashwin said that everyone in their housing society—from children to senior citizens—came together to make the Ganesha, making it what Lokmanya Tilak wanted it to be—a gathering of Indians towards a social cause. This year, the mandal has also decided not to call any bands for a performance during the immersion procession. Instead, the money kept aside for a band will be donated to the Nagaland flood relief fund!
2. Lalbaugh-based Ganesh Galli, Mumbai
Every year, this mandal gets a large PoP Ganesha idol for the purpose of worship, following which it is immersed into the sea. Now, we need not tell you about the consequences of immersing hundreds of such idols in water bodies every year.
This year, the 91-year-old mandal is going eco-friendly!
Speaking to Daily News and Analysis, Adhwait Pedhamkar, a committee member of the mandal said, “For the decoration, we are mainly using fibre and wood, which can be used for some other purpose after the mandal is dismantled. Till last year, we were majorly using PoP for decoration, this year, we have used hardly five per cent PoP for the purpose of decoration.”
3. Sathya Sai Trust, Bengaluru
This organisation is creating beautiful and unique Ganesha idols this year, and that too, using sugarcanes! It took the trust over a month of hard work and five tonnes of sugarcane to make the idol. And no, the sugarcane will not be going to waste.
“We decided to go eco-friendly this time. The colours and PoP cause damage to the creatures of the water when immersed in it. After the pooja, the sugarcane used to make the idol will be distributed [among] the public,” Mohan Raj, a member of the trust told ANI.
Which prashad can be sweeter than this?
4. Manjalpur ka Raja, Vadodara
The Yuva Shakti Charitable Trust has installed an 18-foot-tall idol made of fibre plastic. What is eco-friendly about fibre plastic? This idol can be used for several years!
Last year, Setu Patel, the founder of the trust, saw how idols are only half dissolved after immersion and it got him thinking. Speaking to the Times of India, he said, “We did not want our idol to be in a similar situation and decided to use a fibre plastic idol…”
They got the idol from Mumbai. Mehul Gandhi, the president of the trust, added, “The idol will be sent to Mumbai again in December, where it will once again be decked up, and reused for the next Ganpati festival.”
5. Srinivas Ganesh Utsav Mandal, Mumbai.
An eco-friendly Ganpati is not a novel concept for a trust which has been celebrating the festival in that manner for about 30 years now! This year, they plan to continue with that tradition—their idol will be made from thread, turban cloth, pots, betel nut and coconuts—and also spread a social message about the menace of dowry.
Kalpesh Lodaya, a member of the mandal, told the DNA, “All the things are eco-friendly and like every year, this year too we will not be immersing this idol. In fact, nearly sixty per cent of our decoration is from what we used last year. That also helps us celebrate the festival with [a] small budget. For many years we have been celebrating the festival in an eco-friendly manner. We also plan to not leave the society on the day of immersion and instead, will dismantle the products used for making the idol and give it to people.”
6. Shri Ganesh Area Mandal, Delhi.
Going a step ahead, this mandal will not just celebrate a green festival but also ensure that devotees leave with a green ‘prashad’ later. Mahendra Ladda, the founder and president of the mandal, told HT, “We’re decorating our Ganesha mandal with 4,500 potted plants, which will be distributed to visitors along with Prashad, after the visarjan. This is to ensure that we do something for our future generations so that they don’t curse us for having depleted whatever nature gave!”
The mandal has been using eco-friendly idols for four years now, and this year, they wish to take their celebrations a step ahead. We’ve been celebrating Ganpati puja for 16 years, and four years ago, we started using an eco-friendly Ganesha idol. We even initiated the practice of visarjan in the mandal itself, to avoid polluting the Yamuna and reducing traffic jams. And then we thought, ‘What about the pollution that has already corroded our environment?’ To fight this pollution, we decided to use plants as our weapons,” he said.
Knowingly or unknowingly, the 10-day celebrations cost the environment in terms of noise, plastic and water pollution. Now, we don’t wish that people entirely stop celebrating such a joyous occasion, but often taking a step back and introspecting on what changes can lead us to a more pleasant, more eco-conscious celebration can help us tremendously.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)