A stall at Morya Yatri Niwas, Chinchwadgaon, will stand out amongst the hundreds selling Ganesh idols this year. While at other places, one has to pay for the idol, here, one can just pick out an idol and donate an amount as per their wish. Additionally, unlike other stalls, this one only has eco-friendly Ganesh idols on display. The initiative, conceptualised by city-based pathologist Dr Avinash Vaidya, is in its fourth year now and will see nearly 800 eco-friendly Ganpati idols on display from August 17 at Morya Yatri Niwas, Chinchwad. The initiative is run by Vaidya under a trust — Sri Shankar Maharaj Seva Mandal, Chinchwad.
“I have always been environmentally-conscious. The fact that the idols made with Plaster of Paris (PoP) spoil the water bodies with chemicals, has always disturbed me, given that water is a precious commodity and we must save it. Thus, to protect the environment, I started this crusade three years ago. The first year, I had exhibited just one eco-friendly idol at the stall, only for the purpose of display and to explain to people its benefits,” said the 56-year-old.
An eco-friendly idol dissolves in water within an hour. If dissolved in a bucket, one can use the same to water plants.
The second year, 369 idols were put on display and all were picked up. While every idol had its price attached, customers were told that they were not up for ‘sale’ and if they want an idol, they could take it by donating an amount as per their wish.
“Customers are given an empty envelope, in which they can put in any amount. Even if they don’t put anything, we won’t come to know as the envelope does not carry their name. The stall also has a makeshift temple on the side, where customers place the envelope in front of an idol and leave. There is no CCTV camera, so the donated remains a secret,” said Vaidya, a practicing pathologist for the last 23 years.
Last year saw 1,042 idols on display, all of which were again picked up.
The donation has been very encouraging in the last two years, he said, adding that there were times when envelopes were left empty too.
“In both the cases, the amount donated is never known. Last year, one of the envelopes had one lakh rupees. I want people to support this cause and I know people won’t let me down,” said Vaidya.
He added that the amount collected so far was used for building a home for the elderly — Jijabai Jhende and Pandharinath Jhende Old Age Home — in Dehu. This year’s collection will be used for maintenance of the old-age home, he said. “I appeal to people to donate generously for a good cause. Through this initiative, people are not only saving the environment but also helping senior citizens,” he added.