Traditionally since Lokamanya Tilak started preaching the importance of the Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav in Maharashtra in 1894, the concept of the festival has been simple. Ganapathi idols made of clay and more recently Plaster of Paris (PoP) are brought to large pandals and worshiped for 3, 5, 7, 9, 10 or 11 days. After the predecided days of worship, the idols are taken in a procession accompanied by loud music to the sea or any water body. The result? The water body is polluted because clay and PoP are not biodegradable and when the clay idols dissolve in the water parts of them remain floating on the water long after the immersion has been done. When the devotees of the Elephant God see these parts of the idol, they feel disheartened.
The eventuality of pollution due to the clay idols had been bubbling in the surface for the last few years. Slowly it is sinking in with the government taking some steps like providing artificial ponds. The concept of eco-friendly Ganesha also has been circulating around for some time. 15 years into the 21st century the idea is finally taking root and people are going in for Ganesha idols, which do not pollute.
One such cost-effective Ganesha has been evoked at the Andheri-based Kranti Sarvajanik Mandal. The Mandal popularly known as Koldongricha Vighnaharta (Remover of Obstacles from Koldongri) in Andheri has been making one of the tallest Ganesh idols of 21 feet made of fibre. The fibre idol is one time investment though the shape and size can be moulded and colours can be changed every year. Ideally the clay statues costs a sum of around 1.5 to 2 lakhs and the fibre idol can be made in an asset of around 5 lakhs which saves a lot of money eventually.
The mandal brings a small idol made out of clay as well which is later immersed in water. After the celebration and the ritual of 11 days the larger idol is packed and kept in the society shed for a year. No immersion is involved and the year ahead it is again modified with different colours and design and shape.
Abhishek Vyas, Treasurer of the mandal said, “We have been celebrating this festival for the last 4 decades and we want it to be advantageous to the entire society. 4 years back we brought clay statue of 21 feet and due to dearth in artificial ponds in Mumbai it was difficult for us to immerse it in water. Hence we thought of fibre statue which is one time investment and completely environment-friendly. We do not want to harm the environment and we also request other Ganeshotsav mandals to adopt the eco-friendly way in worshipping Ganesha and at the same time help the environment as well as save money involved”.
According to Mr. Vyas, “The Ganesh idols are made up of majorly PoP which is cheaper and clay. In a study it was observed that clay takes around two weeks to completely dissolve causing harm to marine life, whereas PoP takes more than three to dissolve. In the ensuing adaptation towards making eco friendly idol one must take on to fibre statues which will help the environment on large scale. The Mandal has roped in Bhalchandra, an artist from Mumbai who is an expert at making Ganesh Idols.”
Mr. Vyas added, “We made clay Ganesh Idol of around 21 feet and it was brought to Mumbai from Kankavali, Konkan, Whereas we made our Fibre Statue at our own location which has saved a lot of travelling expenses too. Our main objective is to protect the environment and educate them regarding the ill effects of PoP idols, which is many a times linked with the emotions of devotees post immersion. With Fibre statue we aim at promoting the betterment of society at large in all aspects.”
Kranti Sarvajanik Mandal is an example to the whole country and huge mandals to save the environment and join the country’s mission of Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan and bid adieu to water pollution and marine life hazards.