The Lower Parel railway workshop Ganesh idol is a burning example of how to put waste to best use. The six-foot-tall idol made entirely from dumped railway bogie parts stands proudly inside a temple made from scrap generated by the workshop. The Lord and His abode are so unique, it is hard to miss them even amid the hectic activity around.
“I created the idol around three years ago. All of us who work here pray to it every day. It is a symbol of our dedication to railways. It sends out the message that even scrap is given the form of God here,” said Santosh Gajakosh, a grade-I fitter who maintains old coaches, beats iron panels into shape and repairs equipment.
While the idol trunk is made of equalising stay rods, milk tank brass hangers make its ears and air suspension cylinders the body. The idol is repainted and decorated before every Ganesh and other festivals.
The heavy duty railway workshop at Mahalaxmi too is a proud possessor of two such Ganesh idols and an ‘iron man’.
“It takes 10-12 days to complete the work,” said Ganesh Laxman Ambekar, a grade-I welder who has made the two idols, one showing Ganpati playing a musical instrument.
The ‘iron man’ gifted by bogie assembling unit staff to Indian Railways on the 85th anniversary of electrification of WR, is symbolic of the core nature of the Mahalaxmi workshop that maintains local trains.
Ambekar and Gajakosh’s enthusiasm is shared by Rajan Bhagwat, a junior engineer in the mechanical department of the diesel locomotive shed in Pune. He also spends considerable time and effort in creating idols from scrap.
“In 2001, I made an idol of Lord Ganesh for installation in the bungalow of then Central Railway general manager. In 2003, I made another idol for then GM’s Peddar Road bungalow using scrap from diesel locomotives at the shed. I used the lid of a filter drum to make the face of the idol. I have also made idols of Balaji and Padmavathi from scrap. The satisfaction is immense,” said Bhagwat.
Ganpati pandals have been put up at over two-dozen place sin the state capital and the biggest of them is at the Ramadhin Utsav Bhavan.
The Ganpati idol, dressed spectacularly in a silk attire embellished with traditional gold and silver jewellery, is placed in a pandal decorated in yellow.
Mr Satish Agarwal, general secretary of the Shri Ganesh Prakatya Samiti that has organised the pandal, says that the footfalls of devotees are increasing by the hour. “There are about one lakh people who visited the pandal for Ganpati darshan and we are now holding Bhajan programmes every evening after aarti. We have also got people from Mumbai to prepare modaks because there are no traditionally prepared modaks available in Lucknow as yet.’
At another Ganpati pandal organised by Sai Sewa ashram, the idol installed is an eco-friendly one and use of plastic products, including carry bags, is banned inside the pandal.
Suresh Prajapati, an idol maker, says, “This year we hade more orders for Ganesh statues than for Durga idols. For us, this time of the year is spent in making Durga idols but this year we are working double shifts to cope with orders for Ganesha idols. We have orders for Ganesh is different sizes — from an eight-inch statue to six- and eight-foot statues. The maximum number of buyers is those who bring Ganpati home.”
Rajiv Sharma, a software engineer, who started bringing Ganpati home for three days since last year, admits that he was inspired by visuals of Ganpati festival in Maharashtra. ”I thought that in north India we worship Ganpati before doing an auspicious work so we should also bring him home. We bring him home for three days but we want to celebrate the festival on a bigger scale from next year,” he says.
Amdavadis Meena and Sandeep Damre have created an eco-friendly Ganesha out of palm leaves with the help of their children Sravishta and Renesh. The couple has been making eco-friendly idols since 2000. “Ganpati festival is a good time for children to learn about climate change and global warming and the need to stop abusing the environment,” says Meena.
The couple has been making eco-friendly Ganesh using natural material like clay, leaves, flour, puffed rice, fruits and vegetables. Ganesha idols that are immersed in rivers and lakes are made mostly of Plaster of Paris (PoP) which does not dissolve in water, while the dyes and paints used on the idols release harmful substances like lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium.
“According to our ancient traditions, only plain clay was used to make Ganesha idols. However, the facts that PoP costs less and is lighter had started a different trend,” Sandeep adds.
Lord’s message: Keep politics clean
The bright Ganesha with orange-red hues at Bhimjipura Crossroads in Nava Wadaj is an eye-catcher. This idol is made of buckets, tumblers, brushes and myriad other tools which are used to clean. In fact, this Ganpati also has a washing machine!
“This year the theme is cleanliness in general and in politics in particular,” said Tushar Tapodhan, a former make-up artist and one of the brains behind the idol. Interestingly, while this Ganesha made of plastic buckets and tumblers is not exactly eco-friendly, what helps it stake a claim is the fact that the organizers will not take this idol for immersion. “We never immerse our Ganesh idols but donate it to charity. Since these are pieces of art, they are lapped up by organizations and used as exhibits in institutes. Last year we had made Ganpati on the theme of Swarnim Gujarat which was donated to the Gujarat Cancer Hospital,” said Tapodhan.
Ganesh Chaturthi is a popular festival celebrated in India. The 10-day long celebration includes decorating Ganesha idols at home, making and enjoying mouth-watering delicacies and of course, music, lights and immersion of the idol on the last day. However, as we celebrate Ganpati, we often forget how small things we do during the festival can cause harm to the environment. This year, we believe it’s time for some eco-consciousness. So here are some simple ways to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi in an eco-friendly way.
Use eco-friendly idols: Ditch Ganesha idols made of chemicals, plaster of Paris, plastic and thermocol and opt for natural biodegradable materials like clay and papier mache instead. Biodegradable materials do not pollute the water or the surroundings after immersion. Homemaker Jaya Shanti says, “I make a Ganpati using haldi (turmeric) at home. This is 100% natural and doesn’t cause any harm to the environment.” You can also use other natural products such as coconut to make your idol and natural colours to paint it.
Small and sweet: Big idols occupy a lot of space and take a lot of time to dissolve in water. So, don’t keep an idol more than 5 feet tall in your society. Huge idols also consume more POP for its making; this material is harmful to the environment. Bigger idols also cause traffic congestion. Remember it’s the ritual and your emotions that should be big.
Conserve energy: We all love the fairy lights and bright incandescent bulbs. But they are a waste of energy and are expensive too. Replace these with compact fluorescent lights (CFL) as they save electricity and your money. You could wrap coloured transparent papers on the bulbs to give a dramatic look.
Use natural colours for rangoli: Use biodegradable colours such as turmeric, henna, rice powder, coloured dal and gulaal to make rangoli. These colours are eco-friendly and safe. Also, say no to decorations made of plastic and non-degradable material. Gargi Bansod, journalist says, “We use natural materials such as cloth, wood and paper for decorations. We also reuse materials from previous years in different ways.”
Say no to noise pollution: Avoid playing loud music which can cause disturbance in your society. Try playing instruments that are soft and soothing. Loudspeakers create noise pollution and can annoy hospitals, schools and your neighbours. Make sure to turn off the music by 10pm and abide by rules. Say no to crackers as well!
Ban plastic: There is a lot of delicious food served at home during Ganpati as well as fruits and sweets offered at pandals. Skip plastic and serve food in natural plates such as banana leaves instead. You can use cloth bags to carry prasad and other offerings as they can be reused later.
Limit the number of public pandals: Festivals are supposed to bring people together. So, instead of celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi separately at different pandals, make one big pandal in your area for the entire neighborhood. Remember, more pandals means more noise, garbage and waste of electricity.
Artificial immersion tank: Using rivers, ponds, lakes or seas to immerse Ganesha idols can cause health hazards and is bad for the environment. Use an artificial immersion tank to immerse the idol. You can request your community members to do the same.
Organisers of the Ganesha Tejukaya Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal Trust in Lalbaug are on tenterhooks this year. Their towering 21-feet-high Ganpati idol took a tumble during last year’s immersion procession, leaving many devotees and organisers in despair. To set their minds at rest, they have decided to commission a replica of last year’s idol this year, and give it a proper immersion.
This year’s idol will stand 18 feet tall, in keeping with new guidelines set by the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvaya Samiti.
Sculptor Rajan Zad, who has been making the idol for this mandal for the past 27 years, claims that he has been having sleepless nights since the ‘fall’ last year, and can’t wait to redeem himself by constructing a replica of the same idol this year.
He has 12 years of experience in crafting towering Ganpati idols. The idol was constructed against a single pole last year, possibly causing it to plummet.
Zad said, “Immersion day last year was one of the most unfortunate days in my life, as the idol I created was not properly immersed. Whenever I make idols I get very attached to them. The design of the idol last year was very dear to me, and so I wanted to make a replica of it this year.
When the mandal asked me to create their mandal this year, I jumped at the opportunity. The only difference is that this idol would be 18 feet high instead of last year’s 21. This year I will take more precautions, and will fix more support to the idol so that there is no chance of accidents.”
The mandal and the residents of Tejukaya area in Lalbaug are also happy with the decision to recreate last year’s idol, as they want to give their lord a proper immersion, which they couldn’t last year due to the fall.
Mangesh Shinde, a member of the mandal, said, “It was decided unanimously by our residents and our mandal to have the same idol this year, standing on the dhol just like last year. We didn’t change the height because we were scared of another fall, but because of the rule set by the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvaya Samiti setting the maximum permissible height for idols at 18 feet.”
The long and the short of it
A new rule implemented this year prevents mandals from constructing idols that surpass a maximum height of 18 feet. The rule has been brought into force by the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti (BSGSS), an umbrella body which coordinates with Ganpati festival organisers and the civic authority, along with the Mumbai Murtikar Sangh. Many mandals however have decided to ignore the new rule and have commissioned idols over 20 feet tall, citing tradition.
Every day a few trained disciples of Sadguru Aniruddha Bapu routinely gather in a decrepit room in Gamdevi. They have been doing this for the past eight years in the run up to the Ganesh festival. “First, we started by making toys before moving on to making papier-mâché Ganpati,” said Satyavan Redkar, a disciple.
A garment machine engineer by profession, Redkar and many others, who have nothing to do with idol-making, are just doing this as a service to their spiritual guru.
“In 2003, he took a resolve to protect Mother Nature. So we do not have broken Ganpatis, we first started with toys,” added Redkar, while shaping mashed paper to make Ganpati.
Around 2,600 papier-mâché Ganpatis will be made this year by Aniruddha’s disciples. These will be of one foot to four feet. To provide choice, these are sculpted to resemble 12 prominent avatars of Lord Ganesh. To ensure that eco-friendly word stands true to the practice, besides paper, all other ingredients are eco-friendly as well. ‘Dink’ (Gum Arabic from trees) is used as a glue, organic colours to paint, natural shell dust, and white ink powder. “Even the paper that is used is from the Aniruddha’s Universal Bank of Ram Naam,” said Prakash Rane, a police officer by profession. Raam Nam bank is basically name of lord Ram written by devotees during free time in books.
“These papers are soaked for eight days before being grinded in Boisar,” said Rane. The grinded paper is then sent to various centres where it is mixed with other essentials to make dough. “We shape it and put the dough on the cast. It remains there for one to one and half day to dry before Ganpatis are ready for paint,” said Dattaram Gangan, who works in share market.
Following riot-like situation that gripped the city over a week ago, organisers of Ganpati celebrations are making efforts to ensure security for devotees ahead of Ganesh Chhaturti next month.
According to Girish Walawalkar, secretary of Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvaya Samiti (BSGSS), organisers are in talks with the police and BMC to hold a disaster management workshop for mandal workers on September 6 and 7.
“The climate has been tense over the last few days. We have therefore decided to introduce some security measures through this training, which is open for all mandal workers. While the police will hold training in one of their premises, BMC’s disaster-management team will conduct two workshops at its schools in Worli and Vile Parle,” Walawalkar said.
Mahesh Narvekar, chief officer of the disaster-management unit said, “We will impart first-response training to the mandal workers. This includes fire-fighting, CPR, first-aid, and crowd management among other things.
Last year we had held it in Worli – this year, organisers have requested that we hold a workshop in the suburbs as well.”
Walwalkar said given the recent communal climate, the number of trained volunteers, stationed at every mandal, will be beefed up.
“We are planning to post at least 10 ganasevaks in three shifts throughout the day till night at all mandals. Cameras are most likely to placed at the Ganesha mandal in Chowpatty at least,” Walawalkar added.
Breaking the glass ceiling for the first time in its history, the governing body of Ganpati mandals co-opted for six women on the committee. Affiliated mandals are expected to do so as well.
The president of the Bruhanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti, Naresh Dahibawkar, said, “This move will bring greater transparency and professionalism to the functioning of the parent body of Ganpati mandals. Reservation for women is working well in the civic body and at the gram panchayat level. We even saw a woman as president of India, so I think it is time we did so too. Our women members are from Dongri, Lalbaug and Parel and these areas have a strong presence on the Ganeshotsav landscape.”
Among the co-opted members is Byculla resident Aruna Jaitpal, a Western Railway employee who incidentally had created a record in her previous posting. She was among the first three women cashiers to be appointed to the railway’s important cash and pay department. “Our job was to collect the cash that came from all parts of the city, count it and then deposit it in the bank. The role entails a lot of responsibility and I think it was my integrity that has helped me secure this prestigious post in the Samanvay Samiti today.”
Jaitpal had worked alongside Dahibawkar in Samanvay Samiti for many years and felt that the formal appointment of women would be a welcome change. “I suggested that not just the governing body, but each Ganpati mandal should appoint at least one woman. I am happy the board thought so too,” Jaitpal said.
Ganpati celebrations this year are set to get costlier with the price of idols rising by at least 60 per cent, say idol makers and festival organisers. Naresh Dahibavkar, convener of the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvaya Samiti (BSGSS), blamed the state budget for 2012- 2013, in which tax on Plaster of Paris (PoP) was raised from five per cent to 12.5 per cent. This, coupled with rising prices of other raw material, has led to an increase in the cost of a medium-sized idol from around Rs 10,000 to Rs 17,000.
“Taxes on glue and paints have also risen. We can neither make PoP idols nor environment-friendly paper-mache ones and the government is to blame for this situation,” said Dahibavkar.
Vasant Raje, an idol-maker from Malad, said orders for clay idols have fallen by about 20 per cent this year. “The same amount of clay I used to purchase for Rs 160 now costs Rs 220. Even papier-mache idols have not seen much growth,” he said.
Elsie Gabriel, founder of Young Environmentalists, an organisation that promotes eco-friendly Ganpati idols, believes that at least half the city will opt for green idols this year. “People have understood the harm PoP can cause to the environment,” she said.
Earlier, members of BSGSS had decided to limit the height of idols to 18 ft. “Most Ganpati mandals have complied with this. In a few localities, residents will decide on the height of the idols,” said Dhibavkar.
Vijay Singh, TNN
NAVI MUMBAI: The popular ‘Navi Mumbai Ka Raja’ sarvajanik Ganpati at Turbhe, which is as old as the city of Navi Mumbai itself, celebrates its 41st year with a historical theme-the importance of preserving local heritage.
The Navi Mumbai Raja is also linked with one of Mumbai’s most famous idols, the Lalbaugcha Raja. The 12-foot stall idol, which stands near the ST bus depot in Sector 20 at Turbhe, is made by the same sculptor, Santosh Kambli, who also makes the Lalbaugcha Raja.
True to its conservation message, the Ganpati pandal’s design focuses on presenting the best of Maharashtra-Raigad, Sindhudurg and Janjira forts as well as Ajanta and Ellora caves. The secretary of the mandal, Ankush Vaiti, said: “This year, when devotees visit Navi Mumbai Ka Raja, they will get the chance to see a bit of our history. This priceless heritage of ours must be preserved and respected. That is our message to the people.”
The heritage theme at the venue is designed by art director Nilesh Choudhary. The pandal depicts Raigad fort at the entrance. According to the mandal’s president Dattushet Pati, every year nearly 12 lakh people visit Navi Mumbai Ka Raja during the Lord’s 11-day stay.
Vaiti commented on the “terrible and heartbreaking” sight of liquor bottles, garbage, empty gutkha sachets and ‘paan’ stains that adorn some of the state’s forts and caves. “Tourists even vandalize these sites and write their names on walls that have survived for centuries. Through our Ganpati mandal, we want to drive home the import our responsibility to our cultural and historical heritage,” Vaiti added.
‘Navi Mumbai Ka Raja’ at Turbhe is one of the satellite city’s oldest sarvajanik Ganes mandals.
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