Green Day: Seed Ganeshas' take root in festivities
Deccan Chronicle| Vishaka V Warrier
Seed Paper India began producing the Seed Ganesha in 2017.
A Seed Ganesha kit includes a jute grow bag, two coco peat discs, a clay idol with seeds embedded, or seed bombs placed inside the hollow structure.
Environmental awareness in society has led to the slow but steady decline of Plaster of Paris Ganesha idols. Customarily immersed in a nearby water body, these dissolve and spread their toxins. Clay idols, usually more sombre, are slowly catching on. Roshan Ray, founder of Seed Paper India has taken the eco-friendly idol to a whole new level - these idols come embedded with seed bombs that will germinate when they are immersed. Vishaka V. Warrier reports....
Brightly painted, larger-than-life Plaster of Paris Ganesha idols, once much sought after, are becoming passé as the average Indian grew more environmentally conscious. With the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board spreading awareness every year and banning the sale of PoP idols, their eco-friendly clay counterparts are slowly regaining favour. Now, this is going a step further, with the Seed Ganesha stealing the spotlight this year. The ‘plantable’ idol contains seeds that will germinate once immersed.
While the concept isn’t a new one, it has received a big push from Roshan Ray, the Founder of Seed Paper India. "During the festival season, people are engrossed in the celebrations. The idols are immersed in lakes and seas with great pomp, but little thought to the impact these artificially coloured PoP statues have on the environment," says Roshan. He began using seed paper to make flags, thank-you cards, wedding invitations and so on and has now adopted the principle in clay Ganesha idols. The seeds are either embedded onto the idol or placed within as ‘seed bombs’.
Seed Paper India began producing the Seed Ganesha in 2017. Sales weren’t high that year, the concept was a novel one. In 2018, they sold around 500 idols. This year, they have sold 500 idols over the week and numbers are expected to increase as the festival approaches. In order to increase their reach, Seed Paper India has tied up with Better India and Dunzo, Roshan explains.
A Seed Ganesha kit includes a jute grow bag, two coco peat discs, a clay idol with seeds embedded, or seed bombs placed inside the hollow structure. Tulsi, marigold, sunflower and tomato seeds varieties are available. "Due to the short shelf life and the cost of hybrid seeds in Bengaluru, tomato and sunflower seeds are bought from Delhi, while marigold and tulsi come from Salem. The coco-eat discs, which act as organic manure, are from Coimbatore."
Demand is growing fast but the seed Ganesha is still in its nascent stages. Old habits die hard and this is the biggest challenge: "People are loyal to particular vendors and PoP idols are a customary part of the celebrations. There are also beliefs around the colours used and so on." While the idea of using colours has been considered, Roshan refuses to compromise. "The organic nature of the idols will be compromised as using colours means using chemicals."
Despite the ban, vendors don’t want to do away with PoP idols, for the demand continues to exist. "Vendors are under the impression that eco-friendly idols are taking business away from the PoP variety."
The change is slow but it is happening. "There are people adopting eco-friendly practices as well as an increase in the number of conservationists, who are changing the trend," says Roshan. Seed Ganesha is thus, an alternative that imparts the mantra of ‘new beginnings with new life’.