This Ganesh Chaturthi, the buzz in Chennai is about sustainability, as organic Ganesha idols have, in a small way, made inroads to compete with traditional clay idols. For instance, the eco-friendly Gomay Ganesha was one of the most sought after this year. The idols are hand made using cow dung by farmers and Gau Palak (a person who takes care of cows).

There are also plantable Ganesh idols that turn into a plant. This plant aims at giving back to nature in the most divine way. On the day of Visarjan, these small Ganesh idols are immersed in water bodies.

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, on its part, has urged idol-makers to make eco-friendly Ganesha idols to avoid polluting the water bodies. It said that all idol-makers should only use eco-friendly raw materials such as raw clay, kizhangu (root/tuber of plants like potato) flour or sago paste to make the idols. The vendors are also allowed to use dried straw, organic clay and natural mud to make the idols.

However, not many followed the directive. “We have been making clay idols for over five decades. People just love this form of idols,” said Kalaivani, a vendor selling the clay idol at the busy Triplicane market in the heart of the city.

H Sudhesan, who sells Gomay Ganesha, said nearly 200 people are involved in making idols using the Gomay of native breed of cows. “Idols made of cow dung bring prosperity, harmony and positive energy, he says.

Last year, around 300 Gomay Ganeshas were sold. However, this year, the number has doubled. “We got orders in bulk at the last minute, but could not fulfil them,” he said. Each Gomay Ganesha costs ₹170, he said.

Organic pillayar is a small gesture to affirm your appreciation and compliance to move forward into a sustainable future, said J Krishnan, a 63-year-old customer. Elders have the duty to set an example to the youngsters, he said.

There is now a lot of awareness on sustainability among children. However, it will take a few years for it to dominate in the market, he added.

The Chennai start-up, Kocoatrait, in line with our sustainable philosophy, has, for the first time, created an 118 gm edible, reusable and zero-waste vegan chocolate Ganeshasr.

“We use our 65 per cent vegan, Gluten-free and bean to bar Modak/Kozhukkattai chocolate to create this piece of art. Post use, it can be melted to be used as filling for modak or make a delicious vegan chocolate drink with almond or cashew milk without having to add any other ingredient. Vegan Ganesha is packed in a reusable and keepsake tin box. No refined ingredients have been used in this creation,” said L Nitin Chordia, Co-founder, Kocoatrait. 

The ingredients for vegan chocolate Ganesha include cocoa nibs (roasted and deshelled cocoa beans), cocoa butter, Khandasari Sugar, coconut milk and cardamom to make the delicious vegan chocolate Ganesha, he said.