Restriction-free celebrations in the offing this time; stress on eco-friendly idols
By Mohan Kayaka
After two years of muted festivities in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mysuru is all set to celebrate the upcoming Ganeshotsava in a grand way, free of any restrictions.
For the last two years, both celebrators and idol-makers have been living under the threat of the pandemic and their enthusiasm was subdued. This year, however, the festival will create a vision of social awareness and unity.
Attractive pandals will be set up at various places in the city and artisans have been preparing idols at a brisk pace. As an indication of a grand festival, idol-makers have been receiving many orders for idols of various sizes.
The popular ones are medium-sized idols that can be installed at institutions and at homes. Idols are being made in various parts of Mysuru city including Paduvarahalli (Vinayakanagar), Kumbarageri, Madivalara Beedhi and others.
Ganesha Chaturthi, which is also called Vinayaka Chauthi (Chaturthi), is an auspicious Hindu festival celebrated in Bhadra month as per the Hindu calendar which generally falls from mid-August to September with the onset of Shravana Masa.
Rise in enquiries
Apart from idol-makers, pandits and other festival-related services like mandap decorators, flower dealers and sweet shops are also seeing a sharp rise in enquiries, though there are still over 12 days for the festival that will be celebrated on Aug. 31.
With the Supreme Court banning the immersion of Ganesha idols made of Plaster of Paris (PoP) in water bodies, the State Government too has said that only clay and other eco-friendly idols will be allowed.
As per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)’s revised guidelines for idol immersion, only idols made with natural, biodegradable, eco-friendly raw materials without any toxic, inorganic raw materials are allowed. Idols made up of PoP are banned.
Demand for eco-friendly idols
The festival is usually celebrated for over 10 days and to meet the demand for idols, many idols are being brought from other States including Maharashtra and Telangana. People are coming forward to purchase eco-friendly clay Ganesha idols this time and are specifically declining PoP idols.
As the awareness of the environment and pollution has increased, people are going for idols made of natural clay.
“Seeds of Tulasi plant or any other plant are placed inside clay which is then moulded to prepare Ganesha idols. Along with this, 25 grams of organic fertiliser and a pot is given to every customer. When these idols are immersed inside the pot after the festival rituals, the seed grows naturally within the pot,” said Pratap, an eco-friendly idol-maker from Sunnadakeri.
“We have been selling these nature-friendly idols of Ganesha and Gowri for the past three years. The sales are increasing every year. 500 idols were sold in the first year while 1,000 in the second year. This year we are expecting the sales would cross more than 1,000 idols,” he added.
10-ft tall idols
Speaking to Star of Mysore, Shyamsundar, an idol-maker from Subbarayanakere, informed that eco-friendly idols can be prepared in small sizes up to 10-ft tall. “Coconut fibre helps make the idol and also water painting and shining colours increase the beauty of the idol. The rates usually range from Rs. 25 which will go up to Rs. 15,000,” he said.
“We usually need a lot of time to complete one idol. Only suitable clay is used and they are fetched from lakes in T. Narasipur taluk. The mud is softened and it is a laborious process. As these eco-friendly idols are heavy, it is also easy to immerse them after the festival,” he said.
“We are preparing Ganesha idols in 50 different designs as per the needs of the customers. A new design is brought out every year. As customers visit us, we show the photo album of the idols and let them pick their choice. We will take the order and will start preparing them,” Shyamsundar added.
Sale of PoP idols
But even after a ban is imposed on preparing Ganesha idols out of PoP, there are a few areas where they sell PoP idols. These idols which are made out of PoP are lighter in weight but when immersed after the festival, water bodies get contaminated which would in particular adversely affect the flora and fauna and human population.
Speaking on this, Mysuru City Corporation Commissioner G. Lakshmikantha Reddy said, “We have received many complaints from artisans who make eco-friendly idols about the sale of PoP idols in some areas. We will take action against them and have already notified the field officers.”
The civic body is also coordinating with Ganesha pandal organisers and Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) to guide them towards eco-friendly idols. Simultaneously, the idol-makers are being sensitised about the harm to the environment caused by PoP idols and synthetic colours and are being encouraged to make clay idols.