Like most of Mumbai, Amritha Karnakar celebrates the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi with just as much pomp and ceremony. The difference though, is that her idol is not only eco-friendly but also self-made. An architect by profession, Amritha brings out her crafty side this time of the year. “We have always wanted to make the switch to an eco-friendly Ganesh idol, and so last year I thought of making it myself”.
Making a very personal idol that doesn’t cause any harm to the already over-burdened environment seems like just the thing we need this year. “If you are new to this, you can start with as small as a 6 inch idol. If you attempt a bigger size, the detailing could get a bit challenging,” she says. Amritha ordered her eco-friendly clay from Amazon. You can also get the regular air drying clay or the terracotta clay from a local potter or a stationary store. The rest of the tools can use be easily found at home: water, a toothpick, a pencil or even the tip of a pen!
Here’s a step-by-step on making your own idol:
1. Begin by mixing the clay and water to form a dough.
2. Take a bit of the dough to make a firm base in either a square or a rectangle.
3. Then take some more dough and form a spherical shape that tappers a little towards the top. Place this on the base and use water or a toothpick to attach the two. This will be the torso of the idol.
4. Next, make the legs and hands. For the legs, use long rolls of dough. For the feet, attach smaller pieces and flatten them with water. You can then detail out the toes.
5. For the hands, use smaller rolls of dough. Make one hand in a semi-circle form with a horizontal flattened edge. This one will be holding the prasad. Make the other hand with a vertically flattened edge, looking like it is giving a blessing.
6. At this point, you can start detailing his toes, fingers, ornaments and clothes with smaller pieces of clay or with the help of a toothpick.
7. Now, make the head with a ball shaped piece of dough and a roll for the trunk. Attach the two with water.
8. Take smaller pieces of clay to make the ears, eyes, the crown and his favorite, the modak!
9. Now make the final detailing and use water to smoothen out any part.
Once your idol is ready, it’s time for drying. Amritha usually air dries her idol under the sun. For a quicker drying time, she suggests placing it below your fan overnight or even take the help of an air dryer.
When asked about the styling, she says, “We are keeping it simple this year, by accessorising the idol with flowers, lamps and a bit of jewelry. The backdrop will have a cloth, banana leaves and artefacts that we already have at home”. Styling with products that don’t need to be thrown away also reduces your waste and makes for a smart choice. “You can also use organic paints to add colour to your idol and further elevate the look.”
The final day is the most challenging for everyone involved. People immerse their respective idols in the sea, gathered in groups. The sea looks like a water dump full of debris and the shore is in
complete chaos. But this version of the Ganesha idol solves that challenge too. “On the day of visarjan, we carry out the procession by walking around the house and immerse the idol in a bucket. Then, we use this water for our plants,” smiles Amritha.