Make a Homemade Ganesha Statue with the Kids
Every September, one of the most important festivals in the Hindu calendar sees people of all ages celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi with colourful idols of the elephant god. At this time of year there is plenty of fun, dancing and merriment for children to enjoy, as well as the spectacle of the symbolic farewell to Ganesha as he is submerged in rivers or the sea. With the festival approaching, why not use the event to spark ideas for some craft ideas for kids and think about making your very own homemade statue of Ganesh with your children?
|The above Ganesh Idol is made using Modelling Clay with help of my kids and|
the little mouse, no doubt is made by my little daughter Vidula :)
What you will need
Traditionally, Ganesha idols are made from clay, so that they eventually dissolve when placed in water. At home, you can either purchase some shadu clay powder and mix it with water according to the instructions, or make up your own batch of salt-dough – something that’s always fun for the kids to do themselves!
Make sure you have some tools to hand to carve and sculpt the clay, as well as a bowl of water for smoothing and sticking pieces of clay together. It's also helpful to look at a picture of Ganesh, or use a store-bought idol to use as a visual reference. Ganesha is often depicted sitting in the lotus position and this is also the easiest pose to sculpt with younger children. It's a nice idea to let the kids make one statue each – unless they’re not old enough – as they’ll have fun crafting a Ganesha in their own particular way.
How to make a Ganesha idol out of clay or dough
Once you have your ball of clay or dough, separate a large portion for the main body, and two smaller balls for the legs. Use some water to attach the legs at right angles to the torso and this will form a base for the statue. And as Ganesha is famous for his big belly, don't forget to add an extra round ball of clay at the front! You can then roll out two small lumps for the arms, and a ball for the head. Smaller shapes of clay, for the trunk and ears should be added last.
Smooth over the whole statue with water, paying attention to the joins. If you're using salt-dough, bake your statue for around an hour at a low temperature of 100 degrees centigrade. Most types of clay are air-drying, so place these in a warm room to harden, avoiding strong sunlight. Let them dry overnight if you have time; try not to speed up the process with hairdryers or fans, as this might crack the clay.
Once dry, decorating Ganesh is really up to you. Popular choices for his body are pink or gold, but the kids can paint him any colour they like! Detail eyes and hands with a fine brush and a darker colour paint. Younger children may want to stick on jewels, ribbon or paper flowers.
Making sure you have an eco-friendly festival
One of the other benefits of making a statue at home is that you can control what goes into it. Every year, many thousands of Ganesh idols are deposited into rivers and natural water pools, which can disturb the delicate balance of the eco-system here in India. In recent times, initiatives like the Indian Institute of Bombay's Powai Lake Project encourage children to create eco-friendly statues to save our waterways from further pollution.
Water-based paints or natural dyes, such as turmeric, and biodegradable materials, like clay and paper, do not have such a negative impact on the environment. Consider decorating your Ganesha with flowers, instead of using metal jewels as these can leak chemicals in to our water.
And do one better by submerging your ready-made statue in a bowl or bucket of water at home, so that the water can be re-used on your garden or in household plant pots, once it has dissolved. Always be careful to remove any decorative objects left in the water, before doing so. Here’s to a much safer and more responsible way to celebrate Ganesh’s birthday!
- The above post is a guest article from Surf Excel Team.