On Ganesh Chaturthi, September 5, thousands of homes in the city will welcome Lord Ganesha. With plaster of paris (PoP) idols banned and environmental concerns rising, clay idols are set to be the norm this year.
So don’t be surprised if you find clay idols stacked neatly at Karma Cafe at the Navajivan Trust in Navrangpura. These idols are special as they have been made by Sabarmati Central Jail inmates, most of whom are convicts in cases such as murder.
For the first time, jail authorities have collaborated with the Navajivan Trust for selling and promoting eco-friendly idols. They will be available at Navrangpura in addition to the Prison Inc. store near RTO.
Sunil Joshi, the superintendent of the Sabarmati Central Jail, said that when Navajivan Trust officials visited the jail recently, they learnt of the idol-making activity and agreed readily to an association. “The trust works to spread the ideals and thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi,” Joshi said. “The jail is closely associated with the Mahatma as he spent some time here during the famous sedition trial.” Vivek Desai, the managing trustee of the Navajivan Trust, said the work that jail authorities are doing echoes the Gandhian ethos. “Principles such as sustainable living and giving dignified work to the prison inmates go with our overall work and we decided to support the endeavour,” he said.
Every year, inmates prepare over 200 idols with clay. The tradition was started in 2012 by prison officials who realized the potential of convicts. A pilot project began soon thereafter. A number of artisans were from the famous Hollywood Gully in Gulbai Tekra area, who taught others to make the shapes and paint idols with vibrant colours.