Every year, Rishita Sharma conducts workshops along with local artisans to help societies and companies make eco-friendly Ganpati idols
Bengaluru-based Rishita Sharma embarked on her sustainable journey and zero-waste lifestyle six years ago when she co-founded Green Utsav, a venture that organises zero-waste events. During her course of work, she learnt about the grim problem of water pollution due to immersion of Ganpati idols made from Plaster of Paris (POP). Along with the idols (that take a month to decompose), devotees were also dumping pooja waste.
While she was able to convince her society in Whitefield to immerse the idols in a drum, she realised that she needed more people to get on board with the idea.
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“I started making clay Ganpati idols at home and would even ask the society members to join. Their positive response inspired me to start workshops in 2017. Since then, every year we conduct up to 40 workshops in societies and corporate offices with close to a total of 800 participants. Through the workshops, I am also able to spread awareness about other sustainable practices like replacing plastic items. Plus, all our workshops are done by local potters, so it’s an extra source of revenue every season for them,” Rishita tells The Better India.
Richa Srivastava, one of the residents of the society, has been attending the workshop with her kids for the last two years. She says, “It’s a great learning platform that promotes sustainable practices. We love making our own idols and then immersing them in a bucket. This way we are doing our bit for the environment.”
This year, the pandemic and lockdown have altered the way the festival will be celebrated. With distancing protocols in place, many pandals will not bring in idols and people are encouraged to celebrate the grand festival at the household level. Immersion guidelines will vary from one state to another.
However, that has not deterred Rishita from conducting workshops online. She shares simple steps to make clay Ganpati idols at home. The best part? It is a completely eco-friendly [process and won’t cost you much.
- Seeds (optional)
- Knife or spoon
Approximate time needed: 30 minutes for 3-4 inch Ganesha idol.
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- Prepare the dough by mixing water and clay. If you want your idol to give you a plant, infuse the dough with any seed of your choice.
- Cut them into different pieces or body parts including torso, hands, ears, trunk, face and legs.
- Take a separate piece to form the base of the idol. Flatten it and give it a square shape
- Make a ball (torso) and join it with the base. Use 2 toothpicks to join or you can also use water drops.
- Make the hands, legs and the trunk of the idol. For legs, make long rolls and flatten the edges outwards and stick it to the torso.
- Take one roll and semi-wrap it around the idol from behind. For the right hand, flatten the edge and make it upward like a blessing. Carve the fingers on the palm. For the left hand, you can place a ladoo.
- Take the head (round shape) and place it above the torso
- Take another long roll (trunk) and make it curvy. Stick it at the centre of the head. You can either give a pointy look or tilt it towards the left hand which has a ladoo.
- Make small size balls for eyes and ears. Shape the ears and eyes and stick them in the final step.
- Once a rough layout of the ganpati idol is ready, use a knife or toothpicks to rule to make intricate dhoti designs. Use the extra clay to make the paghdi or stole. Place the idol in a steel bowl or on a banana leaf.
Rishita strictly recommends avoiding any chemical colours. “You can use organic colours or head to your kitchen and find turmeric and beetroot to extract colours.”
Do share with us how you plan to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi and your eco-friendly or DIY mantra.
All images are sourced from Rishita Sharma. You can get in touch here.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)