It is that time of the year that heralds the beginning of festivities and first in the list is the celebration dedicated to Lord Ganesh. Children enjoy the gaiety and interesting traditions that are a part of the festival and look forward to the delicious sweets and savouries that are made during Ganesh pooja at home.
One of the main traditions followed in many Indian households is to bring a beautiful Ganesha idol home during this festival. It has become a norm to buy shiny and colourful Ganesh idols from the market, which use Plaster of Paris (PoP) and are painted with bright chemical and synthetic dyes. PoP is non-biodegradable and contains gypsum with other heavy metals like arsenic, lead and mercury. When these idols are immersed in the water bodies, they decrease the oxygen content, killing the fish and other creatures. The lead in the paint used is also harmful for both humans and animals.
As we, as a society, become increasingly conscious about our duties to the environment, many responsible citizens are opting for eco-friendly Ganesh idols, mostly made of clay. The best way to honour Nature and celebrate the festival responsibly is to make your own Lord Ganesh at home with eco-friendly materials and you can be innovative while doing this.
Here are some DIY ideas for Ganesh idols that even your children can make:
Shadu mati (clay) Ganesh
This is the clay that potter’s use and is available easily. When the festivities are over, you can immerse the idol in a bucket of water and it will dissolve in it. This can be used to water plants.
How To Make:
1.Mix the clay powder with enough water to make a pliable dough.
2.Shape this dough into three big balls for the base, body and head; four elongated pieces for the limbs and four small balls for the tusk, crown and ears. The size of the balls depends on how big you want to make the idol.
3.Take one of the big clay balls and flatten it with a rolling pin to make the base. On this, place the second one to make Ganapati’s body, and add more dough in front to make the round tummy.
4.Place two elongated pieces of clay to form the legs and two of them to form the arms. Use a toothpick to make markings for dhoti and the toes and fingers.
5.Place another ball of dough over this for the head and add a smaller ball to make the trunk. Make sure the trunk has a pointed end. Use a toothpick to ensure it stays in place. Smoothen it out together to look like an elephant head.
6.With the two small balls, fashion out the elephant ears and with the toothpick make marking to make it look realistic.
7.Lastly make a crown with the remaining ball and fix it on the head with a toothpick. Pierce holes for the eyes and navel. You can use thin rolls of clay and make designs on them to create Ganesh’s ornaments.
8.Use turmeric and any other natural colour to brighten up the Ganesh.
Ganesh-on-a-leaf clay idol
This is a small Ganesha idol that even children can make easily and can be also mounted on the wall like a wall hanging. It uses only clay and can be fashioned into a Ganesha idol or just a Ganesha head on the leaf.
How To Make:
1. Take one big ball of clay and shape it like a large leaf. Make markings with a toothpick to make it look real.
2. Then make a semicircle piece for the body and stick it on the leaf. This is going to be Ganesh on a leaf, so the back of the idol has to be flat.
3. Just like in the DIY clay idol, assemble all the pieces for hands, legs, head and trunk.
4. Take a small ball and flatten it. Now using a bottle cap, cut a round shape out of it. Cut this in equal halves and make the elephant ears.
5. Place a crown on top of the head. All the pieces should be attached to the leaf or they will fall out.
6. Remember, this has to be a fairly small idol, as it will be attached vertically to the leaf background, and should not be too heavy.
Paper Mache Ganesh
Paper mache is an eco-friendly alternative to harmful PoP idols and is available to order online or in art supply stores.
How To Make:
1.Add water to the paper mache to turn it into a soft, pliable dough.
2.Make all the pieces for the idol separately. Take a big ball for Ganesh’s stomach, two elongated pieces for the back and legs, two small balls for ears, one for the trunk, two tiny pieces for trunks and two long one for the hands. Use a small ball for the crown. You can also make a clay modak and place it in Ganesh’s hand.
3.Place the big ball on a smooth surface and wrap the two elongated pieces to fashion out the back and legs.
4.Then follow the same instructions as the clay idol to assemble all the different parts of the body. Smooth the cracks with water.
With a toothpick, make eyes and navel.
5. You can adorn the Ganesha with a tilak on the forehead and with ornamental craft stones. Let the paper mache idol dry for two days.
For more information on this here: http://www.hobbyideas.in/diy/view/ganesha-idol-with-paper-mache
Play dough Ganesh
Who doesn’t love play dough? It is a colourful and pliable material, and will make a bright and happy Ganesh. Children will especially love making this one.
How To Make:
1.Use dough in bright hues to shape the Ganesh idol and make balls of different sizes.
2.With one ball of dough make a base or seat for the lord.
3.Follow the instructions as given for the clay idol above to fashion different parts of the body from the dough. You can use blue or green colour for the Ganesh and yellow for the crown, with some red dough for ornaments.
Peepal leaf Ganesh
Peepal tree is considered sacred among the Hindus and the leaf of the Peepal also has medicinal properties. Peepal leaf Ganesh is quite popular in paintings but here you get to make it with real leaves.
How To Make:
1.Take two small size peepal leaves for the ears and a large one for the body. Take two medium size or slightly long leaves for the arms, two
medium sized leaves for the legs and one round but long tipped leaf for Lord Ganesha’s face.
2.Place a rectangular piece of card board on a flat surface and with glue, paste a golden or silver colour paper on it, smoothing it out so there are no wrinkles.
3.First place the two small leaves at the top in such a way that the tips just touch each other, right in the middle and the broad base of the leaves are facing outwards. These will form the ears of Lord Ganesha.
Take the largest leaf and glue it to the cardboard base in the middle, in such a way that the tip of the leaf is facing upwards and the broader side is facing downwards, to form Ganesha’s stomach.
4. Next place the two long leaves on both sides for arms, two leaves on both sides of the bigger, central leaf to make legs and at the end stick the medium-sized long tipped leaf at the top between the ears and above the torso to make the elephant head. Your Peepal leaf Ganesh is ready.
Here’s a video to give you an idea how to make Peepal leaf Ganesh:
So, what are you waiting for? Use this year’s Ganesh Chaturthi festival to teach your child about protecting the environment and respecting Nature. And they will also have fun making their own Ganesh.