Why is the clay idol still struggling to find popularity amongst Ganesh worshippers in the city, as opposed to the PoP ones? We examine...
Despite celebrities and ecologists having appealed for years to choose an eco-friendly Ganpati for the festive season, it seems that Mumbaikars still prefer their Plaster of Paris (PoP) idols.
Take a quick round of five households on the day of Ganesh Chaturthi, and you’re sure to find most of these having chosen a PoP idol, instead of one made of clay. Kartika Patil, a Goregaon resident, explains why the average Mumbaikar still doesn’t wish to change their choice. “We prefer buying a PoP Ganpati, because it not only looks attractive, but the idol also has a professional finish, something that the clay Ganpati idols lack.”
However, every year, after witnessing water bodies in the city being clogged with debris after visarjan, alarmed environmentalists have raised concern against immersing these idols in natural water bodies. No prizes for guessing, though, that this has barely made a dent in the sale of PoP idols in the market.
“A PoP idol is cheaper, when compared to a clay idol. Also it’s comparatively less heavy than a clay idol,” says Santosh Kamble, an idol maker from Lalbaug. “A PoP idol can be lifted by a single person, but it requires two to three people to lift a clay idol. All such reasons prompt buyers to purchase PoP statues.”
Money too is an important criterion here. According to market rates at the moment, a 2-ft PoP idol will cost you Rs 2,500, while a clay one will set you back by Rs 18,000.
Ganesh Mhaduskar’s family, which has been practicing the profession of idol making for about eight decades now, is a prominent name in Girgaum for clay idols. He reveals that the market for clay idols is diminishing by the year. “Takers for clay idols are decreasing every year, mainly because a clay idol is difficult to maintain. There’s a chance they will break too,” he says. “During rains, such idols can’t be sustained.”
But while Ganesh stands by his claims, a few optimistic activists and idol makers have actually recorded a rise in takers for clay idols. “I can’t give an exact figure, but in the last five years, about 10 per cent of people have switched to eco-friendly Ganpatis,” says Saurabjeet Mukherjee, founder of NGO Let’s Green Foundation. “Increase in the sale of PoP Ganpatis is because a lot of first timers, who are choosing to get Ganpati home, prefer buying an attractive idol and opt for a PoP one instead.”