At last, Lord Ganesha is here and and the city is alight with colourfully decorated pandals. Whether going through the fair at Khairatabad or watching the huge idols at different pandals, one might well think that publicity about eco-friendly Ganesha has fallen on deaf ears. The truth, however, is otherwise. There’s a huge demand for clay idols, so much so that the supply isn’t enough!
Environmentalists like Vijay Ram of the Society for Awareness and Vision on Environment (SAVE) are understandably happy. “Things have changed for the better. All this awareness about green and eco-friendly Ganesha has got its due platform in the last 3 or 4 years. One may think the market for clay Ganesha is poor which is why it is not so widespread in use but the reality is that there is a good amount of awareness among the people and they are ready to buy but the makers are so less in numbers!,” he regrets. He plans to give training to around 500 selected artisans from across the state soon after this year’s Ganesh Chaturthi.
“Hussain Sagar died 40 years ago, but there are hundreds of lakes across the state on the verge of dying. Our efforts should be to avoid plaster of paris (PoP) and save lakes,” he said.
Though people in general these days prefer only clay, those setting up pandals are still sticking to PoP. Reasons for the same are many and varied. Ramesh Babu at a pandal near Gandhi Nagar explains, “we want our idols to be colourful and massive in size. But we do not find such idols in clay.” Raju Singh in Dhoolpet too echoes the same views. Looking proudly at his 15-feet high Ganesh idol which has ‘Jhansi ki rani’ and ‘Chattrapathi Shivaji’ on each side, he says, “we put in all our creativity. It is like gambling. Even priests have to like the idol and it is all about status and show now.” Raju Singh, who has been making idols over the last 26 years, has prepared over 250 idols in PoP this year.
According to him, a 15 ft high idol weighs around 500kg and is sold for anything between `30,000 and `50,000. He procures about 200 tonnes of PoP every year at `3,000 per ton.
SAVE is selling clay idols at the Indira Park. A 5 ft tall clay idol is sold for `3,500. It takes about six to seven days to make the idol according to the makers and takes only about two hours to dissolve once immersed in water.
The society has put on sale 1200 clay idols, each about 5 ft high, and by Wednesday afternoon, only 50 were left. Miniature clay idols of eight inches, costing just `one, however, are a clear favourite of devotees.
“We are distributing about 25,000 (miniature idols) this year. It used to be around 700-odd idols a few years ago. The amount of acceptance among people is proof of increased awareness,” points out Vijay Ram.