Back in time, idols, were made from eco-friendly material such as clay, that were also painted with natural colours. As per mythology as well, Goddess Parvati created Ganesha from natural bathing ingredients. The clay idols dissolved when immersed in water and did not pollute the water systems or effect the aquatic life. In addition, the process of collecting clay in this season, also lead to desilting of riverbeds and water reservoirs, facilitating water flow and storage, thereby preventing floods.
Traditional clay idols
Unfortunately, a lot of these old learnings are being lost through generations, possibly because of lack of our understanding. In recent times, the traditional clay idols had been side-lined for the cheaper and more sturdy plaster of paris (POP) idols, that have a major negative impact on our environment. POP being insoluble in water, does not disintegrate completely when immersed during visarjan. Moreover, the chemicals used to colour these idols, which add to its cosmetic appeal, are also made from harmful toxic chemicals which leave traces of heavy metals such as mercury, chromium and lead, leading to destruction of aquatic life. However, the good thing is that awareness amongst us is growing and today many prefer eco-friendly idols and natural colours to the POP idols.
Remnants of the Lord! – result of POP idols
In one such initiative, there are some who have come up with a brilliant and novel idea of making eco-friendly idols- Idols of chocolate that is transformed into milkshakes during visarjan.
Ritu Kalyani with her chocolate Ganesha
Last year, Ritu Kalyani, a Mumbai baker, created a 35 kg chocolate Ganesha in her bakery named Rini-Bakes-Bake my Dreams, in just about 50hours. Her idea for visarjan was also novel. She immersed the chocolate Ganesha in milk and treated many unpriviledged children to a hearty chocolate milkshake.
Visarjan in milk
This year, another bakery, and this one in Ludhiana, has followed suite. They have created a 3 feet tall, 40Kg Belgian chocolate Ganpati, that will also be given visarjan in milk. The resulting Belgian Chocolate milkshake that will be distributed to needy children.
Belgian chocolate Ganesha from the Ludhiana Bakers
While eco-friendly idols are becoming popular, these ideas truly are a novelty and definitely worth a thought.