Goddess Parvati created Ganesha with her own hands. You too can craft an eco friendly Ganesha using materials easily available around you. Draw inspiration from the story and lore to celebrate Ganesh festival in a meaningful way, connecting oneself deeper to Mother Earth.
It is that time of the year which commemorates the birth of Lord Ganesha and he is venerated for ten days with great fervour. This year as many of us are about to celebrate this in an ecofriendly and quieter way, let us look at how we can look at the celebrations in a different light.
The celebration includes ‘Sthapana’ (installation) of the idol, to invoke the presiding deity, paying obeisance, and finally the visarjan (concluding rite which involves submersion of the idol in water or back to earth). Eco friendly Ganeshas are becoming more popular due to the growing awareness about environmental pollution.
Until the 1980’s, synthetic materials were not used to make Ganesh idols. Mud is formed from sediments including the physical remains of organisms which were once alive, including us humans. The significance of making idols out of mud and clay goes much beyond the environmental significance, to include spiritual aspects of living. It signifies the transitory nature of life, the cycle of life-death-rebirth, and that what is made of earth will one day be reduced to base elements.
Saint Kabir, the enlightened weaver describes here:
Maati kahe kumhar se, tu kya rondhe mohe
Ek din aisa aayega, mein rondhugi tohe
The potter turned to knead the clay And heard it say: Be not be too proud Though you may shape me now A time will come when it will be me That shapes and kneads you.
There are several stories connected with Lord Ganesha’s birth, of this, the story that is widely popular goes as follows: Goddess Parvati or Gauri was at home preparing for a bath. As she didn’t want to be disturbed, she told Nandi, Shiva’s Bull, to guard the door and let no one pass. But when Shiva came home, Nandi had to let him pass. Parvati was angry that she had no one as loyal to herself as Nandi was to Shiva. So, taking the turmeric paste (for bathing) from her body and breathing life into it, she created Ganesha, declaring him to be her own loyal son.
The next time she went for a bath, she posted Ganesha on guard duty at the door. In due course, Shiva came home, only to find this strange boy telling him he couldn’t enter his own house. After much negotiation, when he failed to convince Ganesha, Shiva severed the boy’s head, killing him instantly. When Parvati learned of this, she was so enraged. Shiva, having cooled down by this time, and realizing his mistake, agreed to revive Ganesha. The severed head was replaced with a strong and elephant like head, which Shiva placed onto Ganesha’s body. Breathing new life into him, he gave him the status of being foremost among the gods, and leader of all the ganas (classes of beings), Ganapati.
Here, we have Saee Tembhekar who made a Ganesh Idol out of garden soil. She sowed tomato seeds in it and till date she eats fresh tomatoes from the plant that grew from the eco-friendly home made Ganesha.
Watch the step by step process to make Ganesha out of mud (mitti) here :
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Cover Image Painting by Bharti Dayal