Mumbai: A Ganpati idol completely made of paper

17-year-old Vikrant Salaskar is creating a 25-foot tall idol for Shree Ichhamani Ganesh Mandal in Fort entirely of wastepaper; organisers claim the idol will disintegrate and dissolve after immersion

Finally, the move towards going green with Ganpati idols is becoming popular with public Ganesh mandals. The 25-foot idol of Shree Ichhamani Ganesh Mandal in Fort this year will be entirely made of paper and organisers claim that it will disintegrate and dissolve after visarjan.

The 25-foot idol, which organisers claim is the tallest paper idol in Maharashtra, being made at Fort. Pic/Atul Kamble
The 25-foot idol, which organisers claim is the tallest paper idol in Maharashtra, being made at Fort. Pic/Atul Kamble

Organisers also claim that this will be the tallest paper idol in Maharashtra and weigh only 8-10 kg. The mandal, formerly known as D N Road cha Raja, has 17-year-old Vikrant Salaskar designing the eagle-mounted idol. The design this year is a tribute to the late APJ Abdul Kalam, and therefore, Ganesh’s weapons will be named after Kalam’s missiles.

The idol will have one vertical missile in its backdrop and a map of India. The wings of the eagle will be on fire, as a symbol of Kalam’s famous book (Wings of Fire), while its claws will be touching the Earth. All of these components have been made with wastepaper and the idol will have a total height of 25 feet.

Role model
“It so happened that I met Kalam last year where he presented me a certificate for my art. His personality influenced me tremendously. And so, after he passed away this year, I decided to model the decoration as a tribute to him,” Salaskar told mid-day.

The teenager is studying in his second-year of Commerce and has been making idols from the age of 12. Salaskar used to visit the Parel workshop (where Ganesh idols are made) as a child, which is where he drew inspiration. But instead of using the much-hyped plaster of Paris (POP), he decided to use paper.

“I used to save my lunch money in order to buy material in the beginning. I surprised my parents by building a 9-foot idol in my room. A local corporator also liked it, and that’s when I got the chance to make idols for big mandals,” the excited boy said. Salaskar uses bamboo, binding wire, wastepaper, photocopy paper and glue to make his moorti.

He first creates a wire and bamboo skeleton, and then uses two-three layers of paper to make the Ganpati. Crumbled paper is also used to make the finer details while coir is used to design the fine jewellery. This year, Salaskar used about 500 papers (A4 size) to make the idol.

“We were apprehensive about such a young guy handling everything on his own. That is why, three years ago, we only let him make a nine-feet idol. When that idol was a hit, we allowed him to make our idols every year,” said Ravi Shetty, president of the mandal. When asked about the motto to go green, Shetty said, “I feel very bad when, during visarjan, we end up stepping on parts of Ganesh moorti that haven’t dissolved.

That is why we make sure our idol is completely eco-friendly. It completely disintegrates in water and the paper can be recycled again. We use water colours for painting.” Salaskar and his team of teens started work on Sunday and are confident of completing it by Tuesday night.

Devotional songs only
The Mumbai Ganesh Utsav Coordination Committee, in a press conference on Monday, appealed to all mandals to play only Marathi songs during the festival. “We don’t want any obscene songs to be played. We will appeal to all mandals to play only devotional Marathi songs,” said Naresh Dahibavkar, president.

When asked whether a dress code will be enforced for women, he said that he will first have to check with the mandals what dress code they have demanded and then decide whether it is appropriate or not.

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