Come Ganesh Chaturthi, this household in Mangalore will be buzzing with activities. They have been making eco-friendly Ganesha idols for devotees without charging a penny for the past 83 years.

Brothers Prabhakar Rao, Ramachandra Rao and Sudhakar Rao, took over the tradition from their late father Mohan Rao and make Ganesha idols without using moulds, oil paints, plaster of Paris or any other chemical substances .

Raos start accepting the orders from the auspicious day of Chitra Nakshatra, the birth star of Lord Ganesha, which comes about two months before the Ganesh Chaturthi. The work commences as and when devotees bring peeta (wooden seat) for the idol. The clay with which idols are made is brought from Sujirkars Tile Factory. “We use straw and clay to make idols and instead of oil paints, we use lead-free colours that do not contaminate water. The size of Ganseha idol varies between one foot and 12 feet,” said Prabhakar Rao. The family makes the idols at their home, Sri Ganesh.

The family does not charge their customers. However, they accept a Dakshine that the customers give them with ‘phala-thamboola’ (coconut -beetle nut leaves). “For us it is not a business. We are just continuing the tradition handed over to us by our father. All of us have our own business. We do not fix a price for Ganesha idols. We accept whatever devotees give us, happily,” says Ramachandra Rao.

This year the family has received 194 orders including one each from the UK and the US.

Mulky Panduranga Sharma, a member of Santhana Dharma Kendra Association, San Jose, California has been taking Ganesh idols made by the Raos to the US for the past 18 years. The association celebrates the festival for five days and nearly 500 devotees attend it.

For Dr Srisha Shenoy, Ganesh Chaturthi is not complete without the idols made at Sri Ganesh.

He keeps the idols at Wrexham Memorial Hall in UK during Ganesh Chaturthi.