For five years now, RAC Shri Ramdeobaba College of Engineering and Management (RCOEM) in Nagpur, RID 3030, has been practising the tradition of making eco-friendly Ganesha idols. “While creating awareness to protect the environment we want to inspire the youth to make a green choice,” says Santhoshi Biswal, the club secretary.
The club, with the help of its parent club RC Nagpur Mihan Town, organises this annual eco-Ganesha-making workshop. “Our parent club deputes an instructor and provides the material, and helps in gathering participants,” she says, addingthat all her club members participate in this workshop. Although the plaster of Paris looks good and is economical “sculpting a biodegradable idol is so much fun and you get to take your creation home. The excitement among the participants over making their own Ganesh idols has been increasing.”
The workshop attracts “a lot of school and college students and we are glad they are thinking about the environment at such a young age,” Santhoshi brims. The club members also encourage participants to “dissolve the idols at their homes and pour the water for the house plants.”
Ridhi, a 14-year-old participant from the workshop says, “I was so excited to take Bappa home. My mom and dad were so happy that they helped me decorate my handmade Ganesha with dal and pulses.” For Anuradha, another participant “making the idols is like an art therapy.”
Under Project Nirmalya, a day after the Visarjan (immersing the idol in the water) the club members went from street to street gathering the flower garlands used to adorn the elephant God. “It is like a house party where everyone celebrates and have fun, and then stay back to help clean up. “For our club,” says the secretary, “responsibly disposing of the waste from the celebration is the most important part.”
The clean-up activity went on for 12 hours — 10 am to 10 pm — with a participation of 200 club members and volunteers. Over 3,000kg of floral waste were collected and sent for processing. “They will be converted into incense sticks, rangoli powderorother eco-friendly products,” she adds.
The club members follow a tradition of celebrating their birthdays with children from underprivileged backgrounds.