The youth motto behind Ganpati’s eco-idol

The Free Press Journal congratulates Mann Rele, the 20-year-old resident of Girgaon who won the ‘Choice Award’ for his eco-idol Ganpati. The final-year Bachelor of Mass Media student was honored Friday night at a reception jointly hosted by this newspaper, its sister publication Navshakti and the BMC. In a conversation with Rele, we asked what encouraged him to take an eco-friendly celebration and make it a reality.

How did you think about competing for the ‘Choice Award’?

As we learned that the contest spreads the idea of ​​an eco-friendly party, we decided to participate in it so that people know about our eco-friendly decorations; and in turn, they are encouraged to follow in the footsteps.

What was your theme for the award-winning idol?

We designed a festival scene illustrating the tradition and culture of Girgaon. We tried to show the buildings, the chawl culture, St. Therese Church, people standing on balconies and talking, Gudi Padwa celebrations, women wearing feta (turban) and riding motorcycles in shadu. The special feature was the cutouts of sarvajanik idols pulled in a cart. Some prominent idols like Lalbaugcha Raja pass through the area.

When did you start planning the big theme?

Planning began between March and April, but the actual work began two months before Ganeshotsav. The theme was my idea but my whole family helped. I thought we should show the chawl culture which is dwindling now. My grandfather started the festival on a small scale. At the time, it was not a detailed decoration. I grew up seeing my dad, who took the decorations to new heights. Now I tried to push it forward.

When did you first think of organizing eco-friendly celebrations?

It was the 59th year of celebrations. Our idols have always been eco-responsible. It’s only in the past five years that we’ve completely shifted to eco-friendly decorations. The change was aimed at bringing harmony with nature. Moreover, such decorations are good for preserving natural resources for future generations. Today and even before, our decorative objects were never thrown away after the end of the festival. We give it to those who need it. This year, we presented our decoration at the Sainte-Thérèse church. It took the cutting of the church building. Likewise, the other part will go to the Museum of Byculla so that people can see the culture of our region.

To what extent does the cost factor play a role?

Eco-friendly decorations are expensive. The sunboard is more expensive than the thermocol. It is three to four times more expensive. We collect money for the whole year. Each of our family contributes. We buy our idol at Jitekar Wadi which is historically the second place to host Lord Ganesh after Lokmanya Tilak started the festival.

Is this your first time participating in a competition?

No, we also participated in the “Choice Award” last year. We were in the first 21 finalists. Also, we have been recognized with Lokmanya Samman Award, Mumbai Samachar Award and Saamana newspaper office had called me for giving the award. Do you think the public authorities are doing enough to promote eco-responsible parties? I think it’s enough in terms of motivation because they give certificates to people even if they are not winners. The government promotes paper idols over plaster of Paris idols. Yet authorities can do more when it comes to recognizing artisans who make eco-idols

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