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This Ganesh Chaturthi, something's 'fishy'

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | September 16, 2015
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Ogilvy India and Sprouts Environment Trust have come up with the idea of a non-toxic Ganesha primarily crafted from vegetarian fish food. The initiative is aimed at minimising damage to the marine ecosystem.

Ogilvy Mumbai and Sprouts Environment Trust have come together this Ganesha festival for an initiative that could go a long way in saving the aquatic animals and protecting the planet from further deterioration.

Fish friendly Ganesha by Ogilvy and Sprout

During the festival, every year, people bring clay idols of Lord Ganesha in their homes and public pandals (make-shift temples) and worship him for ten days. On the final day, as the idols are immersed into the sea, the toxic materials used in making them pollute the water bodies and wreak havoc on marine life. Plaster of Paris, which is used in the idols, contains substances like gypsum, sulphur and phosphorous which take months, or even years, to dissolve. These chemicals end up floating on the surface of the sea or along the coastline and soon turn into a breeding ground for epidemics. The chemical dyes and synthetic colours used in painting the idols are also toxic, as they release poisonous elements like lead, mercury, zinc and cadmium into the sea, damaging its fragile ecosystem and killing the fish.

With concerns over the impact of such activities rising, NGOs like Sprouts come forward each year to work towards creating interest, awareness and ownership of the environment through education and action alike.

Piyush Pandey

Rajiv Rao

It is to meet this objective that Ogilvy India joined hands with Sprouts and came up with the idea of fish-friendly Ganesha. The non-toxic Ganesha idol is primarily crafted from vegetarian fish food that is edible and safe for consumption. This idol contains vegetarian food ingredients like wheat flour, spinach powder, refined flour and corn flour, and an outer covering of clay to hold them all together. The surface of the idol is treated with paints made from natural material and colours such as multani mitti, turmeric powder and geru.

Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and creative director, Ogilvy South Asia, says, "It's a lovely idea to make a contribution to a greener environment."

"We are really proud to be a part of this beautiful idea. Destruction of marine life has been a cause for much concern to some of us. We hope that, some day, the efforts of this initiative will make us more aware and urge us to act towards protecting our seas," adds Rajiv Rao, national creative director, Ogilvy India.

The campaign was launched with the hashtag #GodSaveTheOcean on Facebook and Twitter, and has received a favourable response so far. It started as a pilot exercise with a small number of idols, but the trust had to get more artisans on board to meet the unexpectedly high demand.

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