Increase in demand to make Ganesh idols from alternative material

Neha Basudkar
Friday, 31 August 2018

"We have started making idols from cow dung. So only 100 such idols have been made but there is more demand for paper mache idols this year than the clay ones,” Gupta said. 

PUNE: Ganesh festival, which is celebrated by many in an eco-friendly way from past several years, has seen a rise in demand for the idols made from cow dung this year. These idols are also shipped to western countries. 

A cow shelter Go-Dham Go-shala run by Nitin Gotkule, situated in the IT hub of Hinjewadi, Adlegaon in Maval, shelters 100 cows. These cows are not used for dairy business but to gather dung and urine to make Ganesh idols. Gotkule said, “From 2011, the shelter has been making idols out of dung and urine, mixing them with curd, ghee and sadu mud, which are called as ‘panchatatva Ganpati’. The idols range from 10 inches to 1 foot in height and this year, 4,000 such idols have already been made, out of which 2,000 have been booked. These idols are sold in Pimpri, Chinchwad, Lonavla, Talegaon and Bengaluru as well. There is no price tag for the idols, devotees pay us according to their wish,” Gotkule said. 

“According to the demand, we make idols, which are of 50 per cent clay and 50 per cent cow dung. The cow dung made idols are not painted but for clay idols, we use natural dyes made from black plum (jamun), turmeric and saffron. Also, from past two years, we are training framers and women from Nagpur, Sangli, Satara and Kolhapur to make Ganesh idols from cow dung and clay,” Gotkule added. Meanwhile, another person, who is a chemical engineer, Prasad Sindagi, has also started making Ganesh idols from cow dung from this year. Situated in Talegaon-Dabhade, Sindagi is not only making eco-friendly Ganesh idols but also giving employment to 30 local women. “These idols are a combination of 70 per cent cow dung, 20 per cent of fertile soil, four per cent of alum and rest of panchatatva. We started making idols from March and around 2,000 idols have been made, which ranges from 1 to 2 feet in height and the price ranges from Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,000. Also, the colours used are natural colours,” Sindagi said. “From these, around 140 and 50 are shipped to the United Kingdom and United States respectively. Also, 100 and 350 idols are sold in Pune and Mumbai,” he added. 

“Along with the eco-friendly Ganesh idols, we are also giving modaks, which are made out of the same components. And the modak contains seeds of indigenous trees,” Sindagi added. 

Apart from cow-dung idols, paper mache idols are also in demand this year. 

While eCoexist, a city-based NGO working for green initiatives, has been making eco-friendly Ganesh idols out of clay and paper mache from past 13 years. They too, from this year, have started making idols from cow dung, but they say paper mache idols are in huge demand. Lolita Gupta, Co-founder of eCoexist, said, “Every year, we sell 2,500 idols made from clay and paper mache, which range from 2.5 inches to 3 feet in height and are priced between Rs 500 and Rs 15,000. From this year, we have started making idols from cow dung. So only 100 such idols have been made but there is more demand for paper mache idols this year than the clay ones,” Gupta said. 

Gupta mentioned that more than 50 paper mache idols are shipped to Hong Kong. “The local demand for paper mache idol has grown to 50 per cent this year, as the paper mache idols are light in weight, easy to handle, less fragile than clay and are 100 per cent biodegradable.” 

She also said, “Natural colours are used for painting the idols, which are sent to Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore and Bhopal.”

Apart from cow-dung idols, paper mache idols are also in demand this year.  While eCoexist, a city-based NGO working for green initiatives, has been making eco-friendly Ganesh idols out of clay and paper mache from past 13 years.

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