Seed-infused clay idols make a mark in Chennai this Ganesh Chaturthihttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chennai/seed-infused-clay-idols-make-a-mark-in-chennai-this-ganesh-chaturthi-5959053/

Seed-infused clay idols make a mark in Chennai this Ganesh Chaturthi

Various eco-friendly Ganesha idols hit the shelves in markets in Chennai to ring in Ganesh Chaturthi on Monday.

Ganesh Chaturthi, Chennai, Clay Ganesha Idols
People in the city are opting for eco-friendly Ganesha idols over Plaster of Paris (POP) idols for Ganesh Chaturthi this year.

In an effort to popularise eco-friendly idols, the Tamil Nadu Department of Horticulture and Plantation Crops introduced clay idols embedded with seeds this year on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi. The idols, sculpted out of clay and containing vegetable seeds, were placed in flower pots. Upon coming in contact with water, they dissolved in the pot and will germinate in a few weeks.

The department made 3,000 such idols for the festival this year, with most being sold from the department’s head office in Chepauk, Senmozhi Poonga (Park) and the Madhavaram Horticulture Park.

Dr. Subbaiyan, the Director of the Tamil Nadu Department of Horticulture and Plantation Crops told IndianExpress.com that the department had come up with the idols to inculcate the habit of growing vegetables at home and promote the concept of terrace or kitchen gardens which are picking up in households in the State. “Providing seed-embedded idols will make people look forward to something special during the occasion and moreover, the idols act as a safe-guard for Tamil Nadu’s ecology”, said Subbaiyan.

This is the first time that the department has introduced such idols in Tamil Nadu. The idols, which were embedded with the seeds of vegetable such ladies fingers, drumsticks, chillis, brinjals and green vegetables were sold in Chennai and parts of Madurai and Coimbatore ahead of Ganesh Chaturthi.

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With a rise in demand for eco-friendly idols over Plaster of Paris (POP) ones, several artisans across the state decided to go green this year and do their bit for the environment. Various eco-friendly Ganesha idols hit the shelves in markets in Chennai to ring in Ganesh Chaturthi on Monday.

With citizens becoming more conscious about the environment, an NGO in the city took it upon itself to campaign actively to sensitise citizens of the impact of purchasing idols made out of Plaster of Paris (POP). Sevalaya, an NGO in Mylapore, has been making seed-infused clay idols for Ganesh Charturthi for the last three years.

Speaking to IndianExpress.com, associate president of the Seva Crafts unit, R Ganesh, said the NGO had come up with the idea of seed-embedded idols in 2016. “Every year, the idols are immersed into the Bay of Bengal and the paint and other debris often end up on the shore, thus affecting the beach. So we decided to come up with the seed-embedded idols to help save the environment,” he said.

Every year, the NGO embeds seeds of different vegetables and plants based on availability. This year, Sevalaya embedded seeds of Tulsi and Kanakambaram flower (Crossandra infundibuliformis) into the clay-idols. The idols are made by villagers at the Sevalaya campus in Kasuva, a village near Thiruninravur in Chennai.

Seed-infused clay idols make a mark in Chennai this Ganesh Chaturthi
The clay idols made by Sevalaya have been infused with papaya and banana seeds in the past.

“We have made 550 idols this year. Each idol is sold for Rs. 200 along with a paper umbrella for Lord Vinayaka, Erukkam poo (Calotropis) and Arugham pul (scutch grass). Once the festival is over, customers need to just pour water on the idol and it will dissolve into the soil. After that, the seeds will germinate into plants”, Ganesh said. The NGO also issues a pamphlet with instructions on how to dissolve the idol.

Ganesh Chaturthi is a celebration of the birthday of Lord Ganesha and the conclusion of the festival is marked with the immersion of an idol into the sea.