The Ganapati at Mrudula & Venugopal’s house looks like marble. These days, marble Ganapatis seem to be popular, with environmentally conscious people wanting to celebrate the Ganesh Chaturthi festival without causing pollution.
Unless you get really close to it, you’ll hardly be able to tell that this a Ganapati that would actually be immersed during the festival, in a totally eco-friendly way. Carefully sculpted by Rintu Kalyani Rathod of Mumbai, this is a Payasam (Kheer) Ganapati.
Payasam is an essential food item that is prepared in Indian homes, as the “sweet” during festivals. There are many types of payasam – made with rice, dhal, vermicelli and the like. They’re usually cooked with milk and sugar, along with dry fruits and raisins fried in ghee, and with a bit of spice flavouring like cardamom and cinnamon.
The Payasam Ganapatis are made with ingredients that a payasam would contain – rice, dry fruits, saffron, rose petals, milk powder – but minus the liquid milk. Milk is what is used to immerse the Ganapati in, and the dissolved mixture can be served as payasam prasadam.
Mrudula had booked the Ganapati a year ago, with the intention of distributing the payasam at a children’s home, and among others in the neighbourhood. However, with the pandemic, these plans had to be changed. She brought home a smaller-than-planned Ganapati of 12 inches.
The Ganapatis are made in a way to last through the 11 day festival. Rintu had told Mrudula that the idol could be kept at room temperature, but she was cautious and used the air conditioner to keep the room cool. Flowers, that are normally a part of the idol decoration, were avoided as Mrudula felt they may attract insects. No flowers also meant less waste to dispose off.
Immersion was done on the fifth day, and 9 litres of milk was used for this.
The prasadam was distributed among all the staff members of the society, and friends and neighbours. We were among the fortunate ones to taste the payasam. It was delicious with a lovely cardamom flavour and the crunch of almonds and cashewnuts.
For those keen on celebrating the festival in a traditional way that is also environment friendly, Payasam Ganesha and Chocolate Ganesha (that is also made by Rintu) are good options.
May Lord Ganesha remove all obstacles and bless us with good health and happiness.
Thanks to Mrudula for sharing the pictures of Ganesh Chaturthi at her Mumbai home.