The call for an eco-friendly Ganesh Chaturthi touched a crescendo this year with many groups showing the way.

Hyderabad is getting back to basics with a lot more enthusiasm this year. The persistent call to go green, bring home an eco-friendly Ganesha and break free of artificial colours and Plaster of Paris idols has struck an unmistakeable chord this year. Scour different areas of the city and you're sure to stumble upon makeshift stalls in different colonies stocking clay idols in different sizes.

Get your hands dirty

The last few days also witnessed a number of workshops where enthusiastic participants were taught to make their own clay Ganesha idols. G. Padma, project officer, National Green Corps, has seen the make-your-own-idol movement getting bigger each year. The National Green Corps, which has facilitated the participation of school children from 400 schools in the city through workshops from August 22 to 31, also reached out to other districts this year. “It's been a daunting task with very few volunteers at NGC but a very rewarding one at that. Some of the school children who were trained in the previous years didn't require fresh orientation. They helped by teaching other children. In addition to workshops, we also sent five-feet tall clay idols to 22 districts,” she says.

Privately run institutions such as Treasure House and Kalanidhi Art School also conducted clay modelling workshops for children and adults, teaching them the nuances of creating idols with different textures of clay.

Elsewhere, the Society for Awareness and Vision on Environment (SAVE) has been doing its bit for the last few years. “Since 2006, we've seen the number of people wanting clay idols growing. This year has been particularly heart warming. As opposed to last year when we made 500 five-feet clay idols, we sensed the spurt in demand and made 1000 idols. All of them have been booked. We also made 15,000 idols of nine-inch height for domestic use, which we are giving away for Re. 1 each,” says SAVE coordinator M. Surendranath. At the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority nursery, Erragadda, SAVE volunteers urge people to immerse idols in their homes rather than lakes. “Our focus is on taking the eco-friendly message to people who want larger idols for pandals since those will be immersed in the lakes,” adds Surendranath.

The AP Pollution Control Board has taken clay idol stalls (the idols priced Rs. 5 onwards) to every neighbourhood possible and Hyderabad Goes Green opened online bookings well in advance. For those who still find it tough to step out and buy clay idols, FM channel Radio City asked listeners to send Text Message to get an idol delivered home. Big FM, on its part, urged listeners to donate old newspapers to help the channel make an idol from paper pulp.

Want a dash of colour? Ethnic stores and a few stalls sell clay idols with natural dyes. As you soak in the festive cheer, take pride in going eco-friendly. That's the way the festival was meant to be, before we succumbed to Plaster of Paris and chemical dyes.