mid-day turns 41: Be your own murtikaar

Updated: Jul 13, 2020, 08:53 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

A commercial designer will teach thousands across the world on Zoom how to make their own Ganpati idol out of material that's eco-friendly. And delicious

Rintu Rathod

Is planning a free digital workshop to tutor participants in making a sustainable pure-chocolate Ganesha idol

This year, Ganeshotsav will see toned-down festivities after restrictions on gatherings are in place to contain the spread of COVID-19. Devotees, who bring an idol of Bappa home every year, are facing a hitch in reaching the murti makers, several of whom are not running the usual operations given the shortage of material and skilled manpower. Santacruz-based sculptor Rintu Rathod has a sweet solution to the problem— a digital workshop that will teach over 1,500 people from more than 37 countries the art of creating their own Ganesh idol out of chocolate. The sessions start from August 15 and are free of cost. A trained commercial designer from the Baroda School of Arts, Rathod specialises in life-size chocolate sculptures. She came up with the concept of the chocolate Ganesha in 2012, after she visited Juhu beach a few days after Ganpati visarjan, and was affected by the sight of broken idols scattered amid filth, with people stamping over them. She made the idols out of sugar and almond paste for the first two years, and dissolved them in milk to distribute it to children from an orphanage as prasad.

In 2014, Rathod began gaining attention for her unique tastebud- and environment-friendly approach to the festival. Since 2017, she has been producing more than 100 idols each year. She has also been holding face-to-face workshops to teach others her craft.

Be your own murtikaar

However, the workshops scheduled for next month have seen the biggest draw so far. "I didn't expect so many people to sign up. I am overwhelmed by the response from across the world," she says, adding, "It is difficult for people to go out and buy idols amid the fear and restrictions. At the same time, this is a good chance for everyone to realise that the message from God is for people to stop using POP idols."

Explaining the dos and don'ts in handling a chocolate Ganesha, Rathod says, "These idols can be kept at home for seven to 11 days, just like any other. It is recommended to switch on the air conditioner if it is hot but otherwise it is not needed. You can perform pooja just like you would for a normal idol. For the immersion, I recommend using tetra pack milk (slightly warm) because it doesn't spoil easily. Smaller idols usually dissolve in milk within 15-20 minutes whereas larger sculptures will take up to two hours. Giving the prasad out as only chocolate (and not milkshake) is also acceptable, but the tradition is to dissolve the idol, hence the immersion in the sea or any water body. You can use red food colour for the tilak."

Rintu Rathod gives finishing touches to a chocolate idol
Rintu Rathod gives finishing touches to a chocolate idol

She recommends that no one be allowed to touch the idol. And use a new soft paintbrush to dust the idol from time to time. "Finally, during immersion, wear gloves to handle the idol."

No. of countries 1,500 participants who have signed up for the workshop hail from

Log on to https://www.rinturathod.com/

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