Thane, Sept 12: As people gear up for the final preparation of Ganesh Chaturthi, the demand for more eco-friendly options, which have been consistent for years, has now grown.
Five pandals were contacted for this story and each one said the same thing. The eco-friendly idols account for anything between 50 to 85 percent of the total sale.
Most of the pandals manufacturing the idols were set up two to three months ago. In Thane, these pandals have diverse Ganesha murtis which are made of red soil (Mitti), natural clay (Shalu Mitti), paper and mitti, and Plaster of Paris (PoP). Some artisans also made murtis from rice husk.
While speaking to some sellers and sculptors in the pandals, they shared that people have always bought murtis from them. One of the sellers operated from his shop and delivered murtis to clients’ places even during the pandemic. And all of them at this time were eco-friendly.
The owner of Vighnaharta Arts, Deepak Dathe, said, “85-90% of people who purchase from his shop and pandal prefer eco-friendly murtis. During COVID-19, he delivered murtis to their homes. “My target during Covid was 500 and sI old 800. This year’s target is 3,000 out of which I have sold 2500 to date.”
He has been making murtis from soil, paper mache, and Plaster of Paris for 10 years.
Dathe also shared how he faced problems during COVID-19 times for getting permission from the police to open his shop.
Thane Municipal Corporation permits these pandals via online and offline modes.
“The choice of murtis varies from person to person, as per their requirements. Some prefer murtis which are made of soil (mitti) while a few prefer buying PoP for their finishing,” said Shubhash Madrekar of Om Shri Ganesh Kala Niketan shop.
Dhanashree Samel of Abhishree Arts said that 60% of customers prefer eco-friendly and 40% prefer PoP. Demand for eco-friendly murtis has been rising and she faced no problems during Covid. However, some pandals have Plaster of Paris murtis selling most, and the reason for that is they give a better finish. Currently, there is no ban on the material.
Pranita Misal of Sai Ganesha Arts said that customers who purchase from her pandal preferred more PoP murtis. Only 18% of them bought eco-friendly murtis which are made from Soil and Natural clay. In Covid times, only their old customers purchased murtis from them but now sales have increased.
Finally, a bit of history. Since the time of Shivaji in the 18th century, the Peshwas in Pune were devout followers of Lord Ganesha, initiating a public Ganesh celebration during the auspicious month of Bhadrapada. However, with the advent of the British Raj, this vibrant celebration transformed into a more private, family-oriented affair. It wasn’t until 1893 that the eminent social reformer Lokmanya Tilak stepped in to revive the festival’s grandeur. Under his influence, Ganesh Chaturthi regained its popularity and transcended into a communal event, fostering widespread community participation and fervor that is witnessed with even greater enthusiasm today.
- From Red Soil to Rice Husk, the choice is largely eco-friendly - September 18, 2023