Stay home with Bappa

Updated: Jun 24, 2020, 10:27 IST | Sukanya Datta | Mumbai

Worried about safety during Ganesh visarjan? Make your own immersible idol at home with the help of these eco-friendly DIY kits

Sculptor Meeta Suraiya will conduct two online workshops to guide people on making the idols at home
Sculptor Meeta Suraiya will conduct two online workshops to guide people on making the idols at home

From scanning dozens of shops to pick that perfect idol, to prepping for hours to deck up the home for a warm welcome to the elephant God, Ganesh Chaturthi is more than just a festival; it's an emotion. Like everything else, there's no guarantee whether we'll be able to step out to buy the idol this year, for obvious reasons. Even if we do, there's always going to be that nagging thought — is this safe? And, as for visarjan, one of the most-awaited moments of the festival, we are not so sure if large-scale immersions will even be allowed, keeping in mind expected social distancing norms. But the virus shouldn't dampen the festive mood, feels Goregaon-based sculptor Meeta Suraiya.

The kit contains colours, clay and instructions
The kit contains colours, clay and instructions

Keeping such safety concerns in mind, she has created DIY clay kits that contain everything that you can possibly need to fashion your own Ganesha at home. Suraiya, who has been practising the art form for 11 years, says making clay idols is not just eco-friendly, it is also a way of truly honouring the deity, as the same clay can be used to give birth to new life in the form of saplings. "Every year, tons of Plaster of Paris (PoP) idols end up at the beaches after visarjan, polluting our water bodies. Moreover, not everyone can even go for visarjan, so only some people are able to enjoy it. Even when I make idols on order, I encourage people to practise bucket or tank visarjan at home or in the society, and grow saplings," she tells us, adding that the concept of bucket visarjan makes even more sense this year as no one will want to get caught in a crowd. But isn't it time-consuming and difficult to craft an idol at home? "All it takes is 45 minutes if you've done it before. And even if you are an amateur, it will take no more than an hour and a half," she asserts, adding that the DIY kit comes with organic clay sourced from Gujarat, water soluble colours, paintbrushes, a couple of tools for sculpting, a wooden base and a diagram to guide people.

Two of the four colour combinations to choose from while ordering the kit
Two of the four colour combinations to choose from while ordering the kit

Explaining the process to us, the 44-year-old sculptor says, "We send the clay according to the size the customer wants — anything between six and 18 inches. Using the wooden platform as the base, you start making balls of clay in different sizes. So, one ball forms the body, a smaller ball will be the head, then there will be the hands, and so on. This is how you build the abstract base, before you begin to sculpt." All these instructions are not only detailed in a manual that is sent with the kit, but will be repeated in two online workshops that Suraiya plans to conduct on July 9 and 19. "If anyone needs further help, or requires personalised assistance, I'll set up a class for them, too," she adds.

Two of the four colour combinations to choose from while ordering the kit

Once the sculpting is done, the idol takes four to five days to dry completely, post which it can be coloured. There are four colour combinations that one can choose — golden, white, red and black; mud colour, red, black and white; red, golden, black and white; and red, yellow, green, black and white. "After the puja, one can immerse the idol in a bucket, and it dissolves in 20 minutes. The clay and the water that is left behind can be used to plant trees. I feel so happy when people send me pictures of little saplings that they've grown with the clay," the sculptor says, adding that it's a great way to bond with one another, the deity as well as nature. "A festival should be fun, but our actions shouldn't turn it into a complete waste," she concludes.

Log on to meetakriti.com to place an order
Cost Rs 500 onwards

Take the idol route

. Choose from a wide range of eco-friendly and immersible clay and plant-based idols.
Log on to myecoganesh.com

. Embark on a green journey with these idols of Ganesha that are filled with seeds and will turn into plants on being showered with water.
Log on to treeganesha.com

. Looking for a nature-friendly, immersible and lightweight idol to bring home this year? Check out this store.
Log on to ecofriendlyganpati.com

. These papier-mâché idols can be immersed in water at home, and the calcium powder left behind can be used to fertilise garden plants.
Log on to paperganesh.com

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