The Banana Ganapati went viral on social media this Ganesh Chaturthi. Many mentioned that this idol was put together in Goa in 2018. The truth is different.
It was actually in Odisha's Sambalpur that this idol - all of 27 feet - came up, and in 2017.
The creators of this idol are the members of Nataraj club from the Odisha town.
"Plantains were used as after the 10 day-long festivities they would eventually ripen to be distributed among the the poor," said Akash Rathi, one of the club members.
This is not the first time the club has installed a banana Ganesha. In 1999, the club came up with the first such idol - about 12 feet high - made of plantains.
The banana Ganapati is not the only unique idol they have come up with.
"During earlier years, our club members had made other 25-feet-high idols with biodegradable materials such as coconuts, rudrakhsha, sweet bundi ladoos, mouli threads and conch shells. The uniqueness of our idols are that they are not immersed but as they are made of reusable and edible materials," says Gopal Pansari, the art director of the club, who came up with the concept.
"While the ornaments and tilak for Lord were made of bamboo, we created the eyes by using banana leaves. It was a craze for the devotees to visit our pandal and they thronged to the place in thousands. It was also a big bit in social media with 1.46 lakh likes, 2.47 lakh shares and 3000 comments," said Akash Rathi, one of the club members.
However, it was not an easy task to install this giant and innovative idol. The 27-feet idol was made using 5 tonnes of bananas, which were transported from Mumbai in a six-wheeler truck. It took 75 days for the installation of the idol. The mouse vaahana of Lord Ganesh was also about 8-feet high. The club members, who are wealthy businessmen, donated the money needed for this.
In a bid to reduce environmental damage, celebrities and activists have been lobbying and appealing to people to go for 'green Ganesh Chaturthi' every year. This is because most of the idols that are made of plaster of paris with toxic and non-biodegradable chemical colours cause considerable harm when they are immersed at the end of the festivities.
The Nataraj club has made it a point to ensure that all their idols are environment friendly. In 2018 too, the club members have come up an innovative idea. This year's idol is themed after the famous Puri Jagannath. The materials used are wood, bamboo, clothes and stones. The 35-foot idol is made largely of coconuts - 10000 of them - and also features 2-lakh conch shells, each only 1 to 1.5 inch, sourced from a dealer in Tamil Nadu's Rameshwaram.