The Ganesha festival has passed but it’s time to share some really creative efforts. It’s not everyday we get to enjoy the stories of individuals who prioritize the environment as a part of their celebrations. When it comes to market availability of eco-friendly idols sold, it varies across India. But thinking out of the box and making your own ganesha at home can be a rebellious step. All our participants are a great example of that.
This year we asked all of you to send in your entries if you have celebrated an eco-friendly Ganesha and get the chance to show off your story. All you had to do was post your pictures and used the hashtag #mygreenganpati.
We couldn’t select just one so we decided why not show our top 3 favorites! We got in touch with them to hear their story and how they came around in choosing to make their own idol for Ganpati festivities.
So without further ado, let’s roll out the best of entries for #mygreenganpathi 2019
Dashrath Gowda, Bangalore
Adhering to the traditions of India, Dashrath Gowda made his Ganesha from turmeric! What we love about his Ganesha is the simplicity with which it was created with a basic ingredient from the kitchen that all of us have! Their family took a pledge to end the practice of buying Ganesha’s from street vendors and now they create their own home-made Ganesha every year.
“It’s been several years we stopped buying Ganesha from vendors and cultivated this practice of making our own from the available ingredients at home. Yes, you got it right – so I purchase turmeric and make it a dough(like chapati dough) and start giving it a shape with love in a gentle way and we start with all the procedures and do pooja with varieties of food offerings and we end Ganesha Chaturthi by doing visarjane and we pour that water to the plants, in this way we celebrate Ganesha festival (no plastic, no POP) at our home sweet home.
I hope, there are many other ways to celebrate a healthy festival. When I came across your entry I was thankful these efforts are now being celebrated. We hope to see many more houses the following suit and bringing their concern for nature in their festivals as well.”
Abhishek Gujjul, Mumbai
We absolutely loved this entry due to its artistry and skill with which it was made. This was the most beautiful Ganpati we received among all our entries! So beautiful that it attracted attention from their community and left them wanting to have one of their own natural Ganpati idols made from them for next year.
“This initiative was taken by my sister. She had already made an eco-friendly Ganapathi in her college once during a fest. I liked it and we decided to make an eco-friendly Ganesha this year. We always had it in mind but we couldn’t make it happen last year, so we decided not to miss the opportunity this year!
Firstly, We visited the stores who sell mud. Then we have cleaned the mud with the help of a purifier. Another type of mud which my sister brought from the college was a clay mud taken from the ocean which helped give structure to the idol. It was fairly easy to mold. The visarjan was done at home and we used it to plant a tree.
It was a Self-implemented Go green initiative at home. And now we feel encouraged to do it every year. We have even received orders. We want to give it out free of charge to help more people opt for green ganesha”
Saving the best for last, Nithya T from Chennai has blown us away with her millet Ganesha idea. Going beyond simply ensuring her material are made from something biodegradable, Nithya made sure it was sustainable in other aspects as well. She questioned the practice of using clay for idols and its impact on the ecosystem. This led to her exploring various other options that are even better for the environment! So she shared with us two varieties of Ganesha she has tried so far.
“I had this idea two years ago when I started living a zero-waste lifestyle, that Ganesha idols should probably be made from something edible that can serve as food for fishes once the visarjan is done. Instead of polluting the sea with additional mud, we could use grains which could be consumed or completely biodegrade adding to the nutritional value of the soil.
And I had a strong opinion that clay soil or any soil other than sand, does not belong in the sea. We must return the soil from the source of where we picked it from. Aquatic life depends on loose soil in the sea and we cannot keep adding other varieties in the sea as it can disrupt the ecosystem. So even though clay is a natural material, after visarjan it doesn’t end up where it’s supposed to be.
I used my knowledge from natural building to make a Ganesha from red soil and cow-dung last year. I was able to just dissolve it and put it back in my garden as manure.
Clay is a property of soil, which means when I make Ganesha from red soil, it has components of clay, silt, and sand. Pure extracted clay used for an idol can lead to unpredictable imbalances, whereas red soil extracted as is, and returned to your garden will maintain the balance.
Because red soil isn’t so sticky, I used cow dung as a binding material. It makes the whole mixture very buttery and easy to mold.“
“Turns out using cow dung to make a Ganesha is actually auspicious! I didn’t know it when I made it but the next day I got to know about this through a friend.
So this year I conducted a workshop to teach kids this same technique.“
“But this year I also experimented with a new kind of Ganesha, Millet Ganesha. I used tapioca pearls. I crushed them first to powder and then cooked them. I got a nice sticky glue. I had some old millet which had some bugs in it, so I thought let me add this and try.
So I put the millets and kneaded it like a dough. I rolled up and it reminded of those slimy gels we play with. I got the consistency of a moldable material and it was surprisingly perfect to create an idol from. My Ganesha this year had nice sharp ears. It was so satisfying to work with those materials. It’s something that dissolves very easily in water in a few days. You can pour it among plants. All the pigeons and birds love to eat them. Even if they don’t eat everything, some grow back as microgreens for you. So there’s that advantage as well.
“The idea that idols can be made from edibles can be more sustainable as we take nothing from the soil but give more to the fauna around us. The scope of the materials that can be used increases way beyond soil or wood. Using just the ingredients in your kitchen you can make an amazing idol. I have also been looking for leftover pulp from the oil mills which make peanut oil, neem oil, coconut oil, etc. There is always cake of this oil left behind which can be used for molding. So let’s see next year, this might become my next Ganapathi experiment!”
The number of families opting for eco-friendly Ganesha has risen over the years, yet we still have some progress left to do in defeating the demands of POP Ganesha. We believe sharing your stories and being proud of your eco-friendly choices is key to creating this green future for festivals in India.