New, creative themes push demand for PoP idols in Vijayawada

Updated - August 29, 2023 08:09 am IST

Published - August 29, 2023 08:08 am IST - VIJAYAWADA

Artists busy in making different varieties of Ganesh idols at Nunna Mango market in Vijayawada on Thursday, With the Ganesh festival approaching, artisansare busy making idols oRAO / THE HINDU

Artists busy in making different varieties of Ganesh idols at Nunna Mango market in Vijayawada on Thursday, With the Ganesh festival approaching, artisansare busy making idols oRAO / THE HINDU | Photo Credit: G.R. Rao

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On any day in the month ahead of Ganesh Chaturthi, the Nunna Mango market, near Vijayawada, becomes a beehive of activity. While some workers are busy sculpting a Ganesh idol, some others are engrossed in giving finishing touches to them.  

Despite an advisory from the State government and clear guidelines from Central Pollution Control Board on use of idols made of clay instead of Plaster of Paris (PoP), in the market here almost all of the over 6,000 idols are made of PoP. 

Every idol, 7-10 feet tall, has the same set of eyes and other facial features, but the difference lies in the design, colours and background. While one idol has an angry Lord Hanuman next to it, another has the Ayodhya temple as the background with ‘Jai Shri Ram’ written on it.  

“There is a craze for it. A lot of people are sentimental about the Ram Mandir issue in Ayodhya,” says Ritesh, an artiste who came up with the idea. He is confident that this idol will see a lot of takers.  

His employer, Iswarappa, says they are laying stress on unique designs and creativity to attract buyers at a time when the public is being encouraged to buy eco-friendly idols. “People like new themes, new colours. The Ayodhya-themed one will not be sold for less than Rs. 50,000,” says Mr. Iswarappa, who invested more than Rs. 30 lakh in the business.  

“The problem with making a shift to idols made of clay is that they are prone to damages during transport. We invest lakhs in this business, and we can not afford to lose it. When people in Hyderabad are going for PoP, why can not the buyers from here do the same?,” he says. Idols from here are exported to places up to 100 km around Vijayawada and also to faraway places in the State.  

Doctor and environmental scientist Ajay Katragadda, who founded the Amaravati Walkers’ and Runners’ Association (AWARA), says that the colours used in PoP idols are dangerous. “For example, metanil yellow is carcinogenic. They enter the food chain as, when the idols are immersed in water bodies, the chemicals are taken by fish which is then consumed by a human,” explains Prof. Ajay Katragadda.  

While the association, through sustained campaigns, has succeeded in bringing a stop to the immersion of idols in Krishna river, the professor says the practice still happens on the sly now and then. The idols are nowadays being immersed in canals, polluting the already-polluted water bodies, he added.

He said while it is good that all households prefer clay to PoP idols the purpose of worshipping, more steps have to be taken to bring a similar change in pandals, too.

The association organises clay idol making competitions for children every year to promote the use of eco-friendly idols and raise awareness among the public, he added. 

(Awaiting response from district/municipal authorities)

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