Ramzan and Id-ul-fitr are over. What’s next? People are already looking forward to Ganesh Chaturthi. Social media is full of talk on how to make a Ganesh idol. What about a Ganesh made from a tree? Or Ganesh on a tree?
Watching the videos and following the #treeganesha brought to light the work of Mumbai-based Telugu sculptor Dattadri Kothur. Dattadri’s novel concept of Tree Ganesha is to make Ganesha idols of clay and organic fertilisers. Why fertilisers, you ask... That’s because he mixes seeds in the clay. When the Ganesh idol is set to to immersed after the puja, he simply lets it lie on soil and waters it down everyday. The seeds embedded in the clay idol germinate, turn into saplings, then into fruit-bearing plants which can grow in pots.
Residents of Lower Parel, Mumbai, Dattadri and his family hail from Hyderabad and call themselves Telugus. A graduate in applied arts from Mumbai and a group head in an ad agency, Dattadri learnt clay sculpting as a hobby and has been making clay idols every year for use at home. “During Ganesh festival, this becomes special. I make clay Ganesha idols and try to deliver some message through my idols. It might have an impact on only a few people, but we have to begin somewhere,” says Dattadri.
Dattadri had earlier made clay idols with the message of peace and harmony, to promote use of public transport, to save trees, about air pollution and water conservation. The idea came to him after he witnessed several lakhs of smaller Ganesha idols being immersed into ponds and lakes apart from the big idols immersed in the sea.
“Even the artificial lakes are not spared. Cleaning any city after this festival is a herculean task and we only blame officials. The beach in Mumbai remain deserted for quite long due to the stench of rotting flowers and fruits and all the mess left behind. So, I create these Ganesh idols and gift it to friends and families. The message spread through word of mouth and now more people came to me asking for these idols,” he says.
Dattadri has a team of 12 artisans to meet the demand. He has a small workshop where they all work. “We take about three hours to make an idol. The idols are made only after an order is placed online or through whatsapp messages,” he explains.
What seeds do they put in the clay? “Gardening is not everyone’s cup of tea. So, these idols come with a rough and tough seed — ladies’ fingers ( bhindi ). All it needs is water.”
The clay sourced from Dharavi is conditioned to be transformed into idols. To avoid any kind of chemical use, the team of sculptors avoid colour. Surprised at the demand of idols from Hyderabad, the team has set up pick up point in the city.
Pickup point in Hyderabad is Dishabhanu apartments, Jai Hind nagar (Opposite Survey of India), Uppal.
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