It will be feats of clay this year for the deity who ‘removes obstacles’

Increasing awareness has seen eco-friendly Ganesh idols making steady inroads into a sea of plaster of paris gods
Ganesh Chaturthi observances today owe much to Bal Gangadhar ‘Lokmanya’ Tilak. Under British rule the festival, which had been celebrated with gusto in Maharashtra under the Peshwas, became a smaller family occasion. Tilak led its revival as a community celebration, a way to increase the nationalistic spirit, with neighbourhoods installing their own idols and then taking them for immersion in large processions. But even the freedom fighter might not have approved of the environmental impact of the festival today.
Idols were once made of clay, but it is a difficult material to work: even using moulds, if not properly treated, it can crack when drying and breaks easily. Most idols are now made of calcium sulfate hemihydrate (Plaster of Paris or PoP), because it dries quickly and cleanly in a mould, so artisans can easily make lots of idols; it also takes colours well, and is light, therefore easier to transport even in the large sizes community mandals want. Perhaps most crucial, it is cheaper than quality clay and easier to get.
But PoP does not biodegrade well, and the synthetic colours used are toxic for aquatic flora and fauna. There are other environmental worries too, like the large amount of polystyrene and plastic used for décor, noise pollution, and air pollution thanks to traffic jams. Devotees can immerse the idol in the pot, and after it is dissolves, add the soil and cocopeat, and sow the seeds. Another venture, MudPiez, has been promoting the clay idols made by traditional artisans in Narayanapura, a village on the outskirts of the city.
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