Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the biggest festivals of India with celebrations lasting for five to ten days. Not only are Ganapati idols worshipped at home but also in pandals that attracts thousands of visitors. Every year, artisans draw inspiration from different quarters to create designs of pandals and idols. This year, selfie taking Ganesha and Ganesha carrying a Shiva Linga on His shoulder are popular designs for idols. Unlike yesteryears, Ganesha has not been depicted as a potbellied, content God of Prosperity but as a fit one, flaunting six pack abs.
Not only have designs of idols been changed but also the materials with which they are being made. Environment activists are urging idol makers and puja organizers to take up organic colours and eco friendly structures for creating the Ganapati Bappa murtis. There are several shops that are selling Ganapati Idols which are made of eco friendly materials hence would not float on water after immersion in the sea. Actors such as Akshay Kumar have spoken in favour of these idols.
Lifestyle changes have also been observed in festival celebrations, in particular decoration of the pandals. With fruits and flowers becoming more expensive, puja organizers are opting for alternative decorative materials made of fibre and plastic. The use of plastic flowers and decorative items has gone up to such an extent that the Mullukanti or thorny shrub and Geejaganagoodu or Weaverbird’s Nest, which have been used for decorating Ganesh Mantaps traditionally, have been swapped for plastic replicas.
The nests were stopped from being sold in the market when the Forest Department took steps and environmentalists launched their campaign of shunning the use and sale of actual nests. The thorny shrubs that are used for decorating the pandals too are unavailable as their natural habitation around and in the city have been torn down to make way for high rises. Gradually, the usage of decorative materials made of plastics is increasing during the celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi. Plastic flowers are preferred because they are cost effective. However, they are quite destructive in nature as they do not dissolve upon being disposed. Therefore, the good done by environmentalists, in encouraging people to buy eco-friendly idols, is being eroded by the use of plastic flowers and ganpati decorative materials. It is also quite difficult to explain to common men about the harms of decorative materials made of plastic as price of natural produces like fruits and flowers are increasing every day. Given the circumstances, that day is not far when people would replace the fruits being offered to Gods with plastics!
Several major pujas of Mumbai, such as the Lalbaugcha Raja, organized by the Lalbaug Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav committee has erected a pandal resembling the Sheesh Mahal shown in the magnus opus, Mughal-e-Azam. The 620 feet mantap is designed by Bollywood set designer, Nitin Chandrakant Desai. Artisans from Jaipur, Udaipur and Agra have used Belgian glass and other materials to craft this magnificent design. Once the festivities conclude, it shall be taken back to the Salman Khan starrer “Prem Ratan Dhan Payo” movie set, for which it has been originally created.
Apart from Mumbai, Ganesh Chaturthi, is celebrated in Chennai, Coimbatore and Pondicherry as well. Known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, these idols too are crafted from clay in different designs. The idols are decorated with parasols or umbrellas and range from fifteen to three feet in height. This year, artisans of most cities have seen an increase in the number of idols ordered.
The name and fame of Ganapati festival is spreading far and wide and so is the fervour for celebrations. Ganpati Decoration has become much popular at homes as well these days.