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Eco-Ganpati workshop at Powai Lake by Chaitali Gupta – Ankan (NGO)

17 min read

Mrs Chaitali Gupta is one of the pioneers in advocating the use of Eco-Ganpati made out of Clay, She has through her NGO Ankan, trained 100"s of underpriviledged woman skills which has made these woman self reliant. She held a workshop at Powai Lake where she taught us how to make a Eco-friendly Ganpati with clay which was also drawn out from Powai Lake. Watch the video above where she makes a statement stressing the need for making an Eco-Ganpati and finally gives a 7 step process and makes an eco-ganpati in under 10 minutes. To know more you can contact Ms. Chaitali Gupta -on- 9321483700

Below is a 7 step by step presentation on how to make an eco-ganpati.

[button link="https://powai.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/7-Step-Eco-Ganpati.pdf"]DOWNLOAD A PRESENTATION  [/button]

In the run up to Ganesh Chaturthi, artisans rush to shape hundreds of idols in time for the festival, the season sees the popular trend of eco-friendly Ganpatis made out of clay materials that dissolve easily after immersion.

As more and more Mumbaikars explore ways to celebrate the city's favourite festival without harming the environment, they come up with creative alternatives to the traditional Plaster of Paris (PoP) idols that flood the markets. Using artificial colours to paint the idol and learning how to make vegetable colours, vegetable dye or naturally extracted colours on natural clay idols is the key.

The clay is collected from Powai lake, cleaned and kneaded on a jute bag for two days before being cast in the shape of the elephant god, and painted with eco-colours, "The colour scheme is yellow and maroon with decorations in white made with rice powder, edible gum and chuna (lime)," says Mrs. Chaitali Gupta who teaches students to make eco-friendly idols.

Despite the eco-advantages of mud and clay idols, most Mumbai artisans continue to opt to work with PoP idols, since they are quicker and cheaper to make."Our work is harder, as we have to wait longer for the mud to dry,", says an artisan.  “It takes nearly three days to make a clay idol, while it takes just a day to make one with PoP. Mud idols of Ganesha cost between Rs1,000 and Rs1,700 while a basic two-foot PoP idol costs less that Rs1,000."

"The clay idols are delicate too as compared to PoP idols. They tend to break in transit,". Despite these difficulties, the demand for eco-friendly idols in the city seems to be on the rise.

According to activists, plaster of Paris idols take 15 days to a month to disintegrate and cause an increase in marine life mortality, while those made of clay take only a day or less to dissolve in water, and cause lesser water pollution.NGOs in the Powai area that has a huge lake came together to organise training workshops and awareness programmes to make Ganesha idols eco-friendly. [quote]"Every year, we see an overwhelming participation from 5,000 people, including children of various schools," says Chaitali Gupta, vice-chairman of Vidya. "It is high time we woke up to the increasing pollution in water bodies. We have to start somewhere, and that is the reason we started with children," said Gupta, who trains children in making clay and mud idols.[/quote]

The National Association of Fishermen has also expressed concern over the immersion of plaster of Paris idols, saying these pollute the water and kill fish, thus affecting their livelihood. "Also, plaster of Paris does not dissolve easily. This destroys the nets of fishermen and  we face the same problem every year. "The municipality should undertake clean-up operations at the spots where the idols are immersed. The fishermen’s community is ready to lend its support in the clean-up operations," he said.

A solution to reduce the problem of toxic paints contaminating the water is with  the use of colours extracted from nirmalya — flowers offered to Lord Ganesha. "All one has to do is segregate flowers according to colours, and grind them to a pulp with a grinding stone or an electric mixer. The pulp should be taken on a clean cloth and the semi-liquid material that is squeezed out of them can be used as natural colours.

This programme was organised on Saturday 30th July, 2011, from 12 noon to 2.30 pm for modeling Ganesh murtis with Powai Lake soil and clay. Here is a video of Ms Chaitali Gupta making a Ganesh Idol in the workshop.


The spirit of our celebrations, the enthusiasm that pervades throughout the Ganesh festival gets a bit marred when we realise the harm the immersion of idols does to our endangered lake environment, year after year.

We have all thought about it several times before and always wanted to do 'something' about it.  May be, with the blessings of Lord Ganapati, we could start something in the right direction, this year! Me and my Team appeals to All Residents to make a beginning.

According to Murtividnyan --   idols made from clay or mud are more appropriate.-   On immersion, the idol should be immersed fully and should disintegrate properly.  - Idols molded with hands rather than prepared by moulds are supposed to be more auspicious.

Spreading awareness about pollution and lessening to pollute the Powai lake in order for it to regain its old pristine beauty and grandeur, we must refrain from doing anything that endangers our environment and while celebrating the Ganesh festival we should use everything that is eco-friendly. It is indeed a small but radical step, and I am sure it will create ripples that will make some change in the thinking and attitude of our neighbours and in the minds of our kith and kin to stop this degradation, and prevent the lake from choking and dying.

Perhaps you will be glad to know that our group ANKAN creates various objects of art with clay as the main medium and it is our policy to avoid chemical substances as far as possible. You may get more information of our activities and see the objects of art created by the members of ANKAN if you visit our website: www.aankan.netfirms.com
[quote] We hope you will enjoy yourself making the clay idols. Wish you a very happy Ganpati Festival.[/quote]

Eventually, we will -

1] Saves the water bodies like lakes and ponds in Mumbai.

2] The eco-system in ponds/lakes is undisturbed

3] Reduction in traffic jams

4] Prevention of Noise, Water & Air pollution

5] Security of senior citizens and children is assured.



Promote an Eco friendly Festival -- Avoid use of large idols, chemical
colours, nirmalya, plastic bags, thermocol decorations!
Water pollution and the lethal heavy metals in paints used on idols is one of the issues that we have repeatedly emphasized...what ever we put in our rivers and water systems end in our food chain.The heavy metals used in paints have reached our food chain affecting our health and those of our children.Even fish from the ocean have been found to be carrying lead and mercury .... we must prevent poisoning ourselves .

Plastic of Paris is difficult to neutralise and given the number of idols a possible solution that could be looked at is that once  the paint has separated from the idols,the flaked off paint  can be collected from the wells for processing and safe disposal.The plaster casts of the idols can then be salvaged for reuse .

It could go a long way in minimising the amount of heavy metals and other poisonous substances that go in the production of modern paints from reaching our food chain.

Tragic that we have moved to plastic paints, plaster of Paris and aluminium wiring instead of the traditional mud and clay , natural paints and bamboo  which were harmless and used to disintegrate on contact with water.


The idols and pandals can also carry social messages related to global warming, harmful effects of gutkha, smoking, Aids, etc.


Almost every municipal ward in the city has marked a patch of land for
vermiculture pits where the collected nirmalya, the floral contribution made
to the Lord, will be converted to manure.
The transition in outlook is apparent in the figures - while last year,
about 500 tonnes of the nirmalya was made into manure, the municipal body is expecting about 1,200 tonnes this year. It takes about two months for the
nirmalya to compost, after which the manure will be distributed for
municipal gardens. "It is like a daily duty for us to collect the nirmalya. The compost created will help nourish more trees,"
Coconuts, sweets, fruits and flowers find their way to immersion sites. Citizens are supposed to set these offerings aside in the nirmalya kalash. But, sadly not many comply. Garlands made of plastic flowers, beaded necklaces and bangles are the biggest environment pests at immersion. Scores of confetti and colour ful thermocol balls float around in the sea on the day of visarjan. Plastic balls and other decorative articles are also carried into the sea.

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