While most of us have built sand castles, here is an artist who scoops fistfuls of wet sand and creates beautiful sculptures. An eco-friendly Ganesha, moulded by Mysore-based sand artist Gowri MN, will be the special attraction during the Ganesha festival in Belgaum. She is busy giving finishing touches to her creation.
The Ganesha idol, 11ft tall, 20 ft wide and 25ft long, will be on show at Maratha Mandir premises for 13 days from September 18. Gowri has used three lorry loads o fsand to create the masterpiece.What made the city go in for this eco-Ganesha? Environment-related issues come to the fore every year during the festival, thanks to the chemical paints and plaster of Paris used in the idols. Environmentalists oppose immersion of such idols in water bodies. In order to create awareness among the people about eco-friendly idols, Belgaum-based organization Yash Events is introducing the sand Ganesha. Gowri, who is qualified with a diploma in mechanical engineering, has discovered her passion for the sand art just a year ago. And within this short period, she has received international recognition. She was the only woman artist who participated in the international sand art festival held at Konark, Orissa, in December 2011. During the 15-day festival, Gowri sculpted popular temples in sand and received accolades.Gowri told TOI: “I am like Ekalavya in sand art. I discovered this beautiful art online. The images I saw inspired me and I began looking up videos on the social media to understand the art better,” she says recalling how she learnt the techniques of sand art on her own. How does she go about it? She says she visualizes a picture and sculpts it in sand.
“The wet sand should be sculpted from top to bottom and the artist must be careful because one cannot go back to the top to make corrections. Sometimes sand sculptures crumble. A sand artist needs patience,” she says.Gowri was invited to participate in around eight events in the past one year across the country. She had sculpted Goddess Chamundeshwari during Mysore Dasara last year and had depicted the Mahabharata at the Lalbagh Republic Day flower show in Bangalore.
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.
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.
With the increasing contamination of water bodies, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has asked artisans to use clay and water-based colours instead of harmful materials and paints to make idols this Ganesh Chaturthi.
“The immersion of idols made of lead-based paint and plaster of Paris pollutes water bodies. This is why we have asked Chennaiites to buy idols made of raw clay and avoid immersing a painted idol in lakes on September 19,” said a senior TNPCB official.
According to the TNPCB estimates, nearly 7,000 idols are immersed in the Greater Chennai region every year. “This drastically increases the total dissolved solids (TDS) and the acid from the paint could damage the ecosystem,” he said.
Studies of water samples sourced from the area where the idols were immersed show a drastic increase in the content of heavy metals such as iron and copper, he said. Srinivasapuram-Pattinapakkam in south Chennai, Kasimedu fishing harbour area in north Chennai and the weigh bridge in Tiruvottiyur are some of the popular places for idol immersion in Chennai.
The board has also stipulated that idols should be taken 500 metres into the sea before being immersed.
M S Karthik Varshan, an idol-maker, said papier mache and gram flour are being used for idol-making this year. “I am using water colours to paint the idols,” said Varshan. According to him, there are nearly 25 varieties of popular models in demand during the season. “The season will begin in 10 days. There are a lot of manufacturers who make 100-200 idols every season,” he said.
- Ganesha idols in the making in Chennai (mylordganesha.com)
Dhoolpet is alleged to be the hub of liquor brewing and ganja making business but every year, three months prior to Ganesh Chaturthi they wash off their sins by making idols
It’s atonement time for the Dhoolpet residents who are brewing gudumba (illicit liquor) or busy making ganja round the clock. They are now giving final touches to the Ganesh idols. Dhoolpet is one of the old suburbs in Old City. This area is inhabited by people who migrated from Uttar Pradesh during the Nizam’s rule.
Dhoolpet is known for the notorious liquor brewing and ganja businesses, but every year, this is the time when they wash off their sins by making Ganesh idols. However, the earnings are three times less than what they earn by selling illicit liquor. In spite of this, they are ready to compromise as it’s a matter of pleasing god to wash off their sins.
“Three months prior to Ganesh Chaturthi is the only time when we stop brewing liquor. The main aim is to wash off our sins. It’s been over a month now since we have started to make Ganesh idols. I have made nearly 120 ganesh idols so far. The sizes range from two feet to 20 feet. Even the women from the family are involved in making idols. The men in the family do the final painting,” said Laxman Singh, who has been making idols since the last two decades.
“The earnings are low compared to what we earn otherwise but paapo ka prayaschit karna bhi zaruri hai,” he adds. Gudumba and Ganja are our their source of income. Most of the families are into this business from the time of Nizams. “The excise department has conducted many raids here, but we don’t fear in the trade that we practice as Lord Ganesha will take care of us,” gushes the old man.
Not adhering to government rules is nothing new for the residents.
Most of them still make idols using plaster of paris and they don’t want to make clay idols. “Whatever the government may say, but idols made of plaster of paris are still more in demand compared to the clay ones. Pandal organisers place orders for plaster of paris made idols only and that is the reason we don’t make eco-friendly Ganesh idols,” said Devi Singh, a resident of Dhoolpet.
Many workers are seen giving the “Dhoolpet finishing” to the idols. It’s a particular finishing in terms of touch, colour and even design.
By: Shrikant Khupekar, Mumbai
Mumbai: In the run up to Ganesh Chaturthi on September 1 this year, Vakratunda Mitra Mandal at Sangita wadi in Dombivli East approached sculptor Gunesh Gajanan Adval, and they had a unique request. To commemorate their 21st year in existence, the Sarvajanik Ganeshoustav Mandal wanted 21 idols made.
In just as unique fashion, Adval and his sister Shubhangi Ullengal have decided to make 21 idols that are unique and different from each other, as well as exclusive to their business. This, after the siblings along with Adval’s wife Bhargavi, mould and cast sculptures not with the help of pictures, but with their imagination.
Ullengal recalls, “When we were kids, our father, a sculptor, would tell us stories of the different forms of Ganpati. So, we have decided to make this our theme and create 21 idols based on those stories.”
Adval has already completed four of the 21 idols. What’s planned for the rest includes, Ganpati resting on a flower, sitting beside a mouse, sitting on the moon, dancing, writing the Mahabharata, battling demons with a mace, fighting with demons with a trishul, seated in a pious position, doing yoga, seated on a swing, riding a mouse, and with a lion, among others. Adval said, “Ten idols will depict Ganesha in his childhood, while another 11 will show him as an adult.”
Thirty five year-old Adval, who moved to Mumbai from Kohlapur in 2008, is environment conscious too. “I make idols only out of mud. Plaster of Paris does not dissolve in water, and is a problem, so I avoid it.”
He is the designer of a statue of Mother India that stands at the entrance of Vidya Niketan School in Dombivli, and plans to work on sculptures that depict social issues like public cleanliness, literacy and education.
“Earlier, Maharashtrians staying abroad worshipped idols made from plaster of Paris (PoP). However, since the last couple of years, the trend has shifted to worshipping clay idols,’’ managing director of Grahak Peth, Suryakant Pathak said. Sunita Kulkarni was the first customer of Grahak Peth this year to send idol to her relatives in China.
Pathak said awareness about eco-friendly idols was growing. Grahak Peth had had kept only 100 PoP idols this year, which could not all be sold. However, all 4,000 clay idols were sold out before Ganesh Chaturthi, according to Pathak.
Guruprasad Enterprises, which claims to have made shadu idols following the rituals in the holy books, exported 60 idols. Their idols were mainly sent to Russia, New Zealand, US, Australia and England, according to manager Sachin Tagade.
“There are clear indications about making idols for Ganesh puja in our shastras. We are keen on following this. Demand poured in from other countries for shadu idols, thanks to the awareness among people,’’ said Tagade.
However, exporting shadu idols is a challenge. Expert packing is needed to avoid damaging the idols which are comparatively delicate. Vasant Desai of Desai Bandhu Ambewale said they had been exporting a limited number of shadu idols as it is risky.
“Exporting PoP idols is easy as the idols are tough and can be packed easily. But we need expert packing for shadu idols,’’ said Desai.
Grahak Peth tied up with Fairdeal Couriers last year to export the idols. Pathak said considering the increasing demand from local families with NRI relatives, they had tied up with the courier service to ensure safe delivery of the idols.
Sachin Tagade said, “We are involved only in sale of shadu idols. Hence, we concentrate on special packing. These idols have to be handled with care. Also, exporting these idols is costlier.’’
Shrabonti Bagchi, TNN
BANGALORE: On the top floor of his small two-storey house in Pottery Town, 37-year-old Murali Boji sits on a low stool, a potter’s wheel in front of him. On the pedestal of the wheel is a small Ganesha idol that he is putting finishing touches to: pinching a bit of clay here to create an ornament, moulding a bit there to round off an already plump arm.
Murali and nine other members of his family, brothers, their wives and children live in this house. Almost all members of the family are involved in some way or the other in creating the Ganesha idols, and it shows. Ganeshas spill out of every available space in this tiny pink house. They have taken over the main hall, where an apprentice highlights the jewellery of the clay idols with a bright golden paint.
In a small room next door, Murali’s wife and sisters-in-law are busy painting others with deft, practised touches, barely stopping to look down at the brush and the clay as they answer questions briskly. The stairs are lined on both sides with Ganeshas ready to make their appearance on Thursday; other Ganeshas sit in front of a pedestal fan, airing themselves even as Murali sends up prayers that they dry fast enough for them to start the paint work.
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Efforts of green activists and NGOs have pushed up sale of eco-friendly Ganpati idols in the city. Several eco-friendly Ganpati idol-making competitions this year and the boost given by a few companies like Uninor to create awareness have helped.
For instance, EcoExist doubled its sale this year. “This year, we sold 1,600 idols, double of what was sold last year,” said Manisha Gutman, founder of EcoExist.
In spite of the high sale, the demand of eco-friendly idols made clay – they easily disperse in water during immersion causing much less pollution as compared to plaster of paris (PoP) idols – still overshot supply. Buyers at many places were unable to find them as many sellers stocked PoP idols for various reasons.
Ganesh Lanjekar, who sells over 1,000 idols every year at Pawli Chowk in Kasba Peth, said, “I have been selling idols for 42 years. I sold an equal number of both the shadu mati (clay) and PoP Ganpatis, but the demand for eco-friendly Ganpatis was not completely met.”
With clay and plaster of Paris strewn around and the radio humming on a low volume, Thakurdwar-based murtikar (idol-artist) Pradeep Madhuskar, has not had the time to take a lunch break over the last two weeks. With more than 25 small-sized Ganesh idols waiting in line to be coloured and another couple of eco-friendly idols drying in the sun, Madhuskar and his team of 15 murtikars have converted their workshop into their temporary home in Kalbadevi.
“Though work began during Dusshera last year, the last few days before the Ganesh festival make all the difference,” said Madhuskar, who specialises in creating Ganpati idols placed at homes. Like Madhuskar, other city-based murtikars have been working over-time to add finishing touches to the idols.
At a workshop near Parel railway station, Sushma Berde and her team of jewellery designers have been spending hours mixing and matching precious stones and metal. “We have to first survey the mandals and check the colour of the set design and the idol’s attire. Based on the colours, we work out our combinations,” said Berde, who will be adorning the Khetwadi ka Raja (12 feet) and Borivli ka Raja (8 feet) this year, besides 45 other home ganpati idols. “We get the stones and crystals from wholesalers in Pydhonie and Bhuleshwar and work in tandem with idol-makers. Designing the jewellery and ensuring a perfect fit is a gratifying experience,” added Berde.
Berde has been working closely with murtikar Vijay Khatu, who is creating the city’s tallest Ganpati idol this year at Ganesh Galli (22 feet) in Parel. “We were given a brief about the theme of the pandal this year and based on those specifications, we came up with the concept of the idol,” said Khatu. “There are around 200 home ganpatis being crafted in my workshop right now,” he added. Just a few metres away, Santosh Kambli and his father, Ratnakar Kambli have been adding final touches to the King of the city, the Lalbaugcha Raja. “For 78 years, we haven’t changed the expression of the murtis we create in our workshop,” said Santosh.