Somewhere in Talegaon Dabhade....

Every year, a certain amount of people ensure that the movement towards an eco-friendly Ganeshotsav continues — especially at a time when Plaster-of-Paris idols continue to make their presence felt largely. An example of this sustainable crusade was wholeheartedly demonstrated by a group of nature lovers from Talegaon Dabhade, who took it upon themselves to make a conscious effort to steer clear from PoP. Their solution is 100 per cent eco-friendly and thus, they chose to call is ‘shuddhi’ Ganesh.

These idols are composed of fertile soil, cow dung, panchgavya (a concoction prepared by mixing five products from the cow), turti (potassium alum) and a bunch of seeds from native trees. Given their composition, these statues can be blended with nature — be it immersion in the river or mixing with soil in gardens and farms — after the festivities conclude. The members of this group also claim that the seeds will sprout into new plants and will also work as fertilisers.

This concept is the brainchild of chemical engineer Prasad Shindagi, who was provided with the logistical support by Shreemant Sarsenapati Umabaisaheb Khanderao Dabhade Mahila-Balkalyan Sanstha, Shree-Krishna Goshala and fort lovers group, Maval Prabodhini. These idols were on sale at stalls for half the price than the PoP and shadu idols.

Shubham Joshi, who was a volunteer in the production, said, “The idols are made of 25 per cent clay, 70 per cent dung, four per cent potassium alum and one per cent panchgavya. We also used natural dyes made from black jamun, turmeric and saffron. Around 3,000 such statues that measure 1-2 ft were produced, efforts for which began since March.”

President of Maval Prabodhini — one of the groups that provided manpower for the task — Ravindra Bhegde told Mirror of extending this technique to farmers through training sessions. “We want to train farmers and women from Maval to make idols from cow dung and clay. This will bring them extra income and propagate the art to other parts of the state,” he said.

This art — according to Shindagi, who came up with the idea — has scores of benefits for the ecosystem. For instance, he said that the cow dung is equipped with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium that make for main components of soil fertiliser. “The potassium alum also works as a natural water purifier. The composition is perfect to clean the waterbodies and preserve nature. The seed balls made of neem, kadamb, jamun, kanchan and palas are integrated into the idol and stuffed into the modaks,” he said.

These seeds, he believes, will take root and branch out slowly, as they simultaneously enrich the soil. “This can also be a good feed for the fish,” added Shindagi.

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