From 9th September 2013 starts the 10 day Indian festival, ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’, celebrating the birth of Hindu mythological Elephant God, Lord Ganesh (also known as Ganpati). As exciting as it sounds, there is a huge threat to the environment caused by the recent trend of the Ganesh idols made out of Plaster of Paris (POP). Traditionally the idols were made of natural clay which dissolves easily when immersed in the water at the end of the festival. POP idols however are made of artificial material (gypsum powder). It is insoluble and tends to make an impermeable layer at the bottom of the lake, pond or a river where the idols are immersed. Plants, fish and other organisms die in large numbers due to this, thus affecting the natural Eco-system.
The fluorescent colours used for painting the idols are equally hazardous. They contain lead, mercury, arsenic, which can cause adverse effects on heart, liver, kidney and nervous system.
More and more people and various environmental groups and activists are getting aware of these issues and helping people to educate and understand these problems. We all love ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ and the spirit of this festival and therefore we can get more involved by making our own Eco-Friendly Ganesh idols.
Say No to POP Idols!! You can make them out of so many Eco-Friendly and easily dissolvable materials like Clay, Paper Mache, Jaggery blocks and even flour dough. I think Ganesh idols are the simplest things to make. With little practice, imagination and skill, one can quiet easily make your own idols at home.
Most children have artistic skills and have a natural flair for clay modeling. They would love to make their own idols and have a very satisfying experience of using their creative abilities.
I have been making my own Ganesh idols from a very young age. A huge white Ganesh statue in my Art class made by my Art teacher inspired me to make the very first one. Since then I have made quite a few in different materials and in different styles, traditional and modern.
Seen here is my ‘Art from Past’, a modern and minimalistic clay model of ‘Lord Ganesh holding a baby in his arms’ -year 1997.