As unpainted clay Ganesha idols gain ground, seed, chocolate, and papier-mache idols emerge as more eco-friendly alternatives this festival season


Bengalureans have become more creative as they have taken to Ganesha idols made out of clay, seeds, chocolate, and papier-mache as effective eco-friendly alternatives, as they gear up to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi this year.

Though there is still a market for plaster of Paris (PoP) idols that have been banned by the civic body, the unpainted traditional clay idols have gained ground in the city.

Many idol makers have also shifted and now focus solely on making unpainted clay idols. Kiran Kumar, whose family are traditional idol makers, based out of Uttarahalli, have decided to make only eco-friendly clay idols, despite an occassional demand for a PoP idol.

Sudhakar N., a first-generation idol maker in Bannerghatta, has also dedicated himself to making only clay idols. “I am completely against selling PoP Ganesha idols,” he said.

Several politicians in the city have organized events and given away unpainted clay idols for free, this year.

Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy said he had distributed clay idols to create awareness against PoP idols. “The PoP idols, though banned, seem to be a favorite among the youth. So to create awareness on its ill effects and its eco-friendly alternatives, I have distributed clay idols in my constituency,” he said.

Many NGOs have also held workshops on making clay idols in the city ahead of the festival.

Though clay Ganesha idols are being widely used in the city, as an eco-friendly alternative, they can be a pollutant as well, taking over three weeks to dissolve in water and harming aquatic life in the process.

As a result, papier-mache Ganesha idols have emerged as a more eco-friendly alternative. Made out of clean paper, clay mud, and natural glue, they are cost-effective as well as sustainable, dissolving in three days once immersed in water.

Anil Paltankar, who started My Murti, an online platform that connects idol makers from all over India, said: “Our papier-mâché idols are all sold out now. They are so popular because they’re so light. These days, idols are made out of everything including red soil, and cow dung. People want safer options. They don’t want to cause more pollution.”

Priya Jain, owner of MisriKraft, has been crafting chocolate Ganesha idols since 2017. “This allows us to kindle children’s interest in the festival,” she said.

Her journey began with small batches made for friends, which soon gained traction on social media. Working from her studio in Arekere, Mico Layout, Bannerghatta Road, Ms. Jain now creates 40-50 chocolate Ganesha idols annually.

She shared that her company initially had no plans to venture into chocolate Ganesha production on a big scale. However, seeing the excitement of young children during the Ganesha immersion, where they anticipated receiving chocolate as prasada, inspired her to embark on this path. The chocolate Ganesha offers a delectable twist to tradition in the city.

With idol makers becoming more innovative, eco-friendly Ganesha choices have earned a place in the hearts of its devotees, who see that tradition and sustainability can exist without any apparent conflict.


Leave a comment