Mon, 18 Nov, 2019

Exploring new frontiers of eco-friendly Ganesh

While efforts are on to make Ganesh Chaturthi environmentally friendly by taking steps such as limiting fireworks and responsibly disposing nirmalya waste, eco-friendly Ganesh idols made from rather unconventional materials are also being tested

01st September 2019, 02:52 Hrs

JAY JOSHI   


A society truly thrives when it changes with the times. Over the past few years, the way our festivals are celebrated is slowly changing as the awareness about the need to preserve environment spreads. From reducing carbon footprint by limiting fireworks to responsible disposal of nirmalya waste, a number of initiatives are being taken by different individuals and organisations to make Ganesh festival eco-friendly.   

However, Shreya Shirsat, a cake artist and baker from Mapusa has conceptualised a unique initiative that aims to serve the cause of the environment as well as the society by bringing a special treat to the underprivileged sections. Shirsat will be creating a Ganesh idol out of chocolate to celebrate the festival. Further on, after the pooja, the idol will be immersed in milk, and the residue i.e. chocolate milk will be served as prasad to underprivileged children.   

“I first got the idea when I saw a woman in Mumbai do it about three years ago,” informs Shirsat. “Immersion of Ganesh idols creates some serious environmental issues. Firstly, the chemical colours that are used to paint the idols are harmful for marine life. Secondly, I have myself seen many times that once the idols are immersed, parts of them remain in water bodies. This is rather disturbing sight to behold for any Ganesh devotee,” says the cake artist, adding that creating a Ganesh idol of chocolate would certainly be an innovative step to take.   

Shirsat currently runs a designer cake studio named The Chocolate Story in Mapusa. She has created a chocolate Ganesh idol measuring around 8 inches. The idol is made using edible colours and has no added preservatives. “The chocolate Ganesh can last up to eleven days if you want to celebrate the festival for that long, but it has to be kept in a dry and cool atmosphere. An air-conditioned room would be ideal,” says Shirsat. The Ganesh idol that she has presently made will be sold to a client in London, and Shirsat next plans to make a 1ft big Ganesh idol for celebrations at her own place.   

That said, Shirsat agrees that chocolate Ganesha is quite novel concept, and the initiative will certainly take time till it comes close to becoming a mainstream idea. The cake artist has faced questions about the cost and pricing of chocolate Ganesh idols, and objections have also been raised about the idea of immersing the idol in milk and then drinking it. “The idea has been well-received by some clients staying abroad because it is difficult for them to find a place to immerse the idols, but it will take time to implement the idea in Goa,” she says. “Many people may not comfortable with the idea of immersing the idol in milk and then consuming it, but we believe that God resides within each of us, we are not doing anything wrong. It is just like eating prasad,” avers the cake artist.   

Elaborating on the financial viability of the initiative, Shirsat stresses that it is quite economical. “I plan to start workshops by next year and teach those interested how to make chocolate Ganesh idols. The 8 inches Ganesh idol that I have made weighs about 2-2.5 kgs. You could make this using Dairy Milk chocolates as two kgs of Dairy Milk would cost you about Rs2500,” informs Shirsat. The idols will also be made commercially available, but currently most of the clientele for such idols is Indians residing abroad. “I am aware that the idea will take time to become popular in Goa. it is however gaining good response from the youth, and I believe the initiative would be a success even if it changes the mindset of 10 percent of the population,” says Shirsat.   

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