A Divine Approach to Dirt

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In a small town near Bangalore, three inventive youngsters put waste at the service of gods
Bidadi is a small town 35 km from Bangalore, but the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan can take a leaf out of the book of three youths there. Bharath Kumar is just 21 years old, but in Bidadi is known as someone who turns trash into art, including that for adorning gods.

Among other things, he, along with two others, decorates the idol in the 135-year-old temple there using recycled waste on occasions like Navratri. BG Shiva Kumar, a fourth generation pujari who runs the temple, says, “I allow the boys to decorate the Tripurasundari deity in different avatars by using waste material, vegetables and other imaginative things every Navratri, Shivratri and other festivals.” The unique form of worship has made his temple very popular.

The youngsters use waste to make replicas of monuments, well-known personalities, temples and festivals. Pieces of cloth, cardboard, chalk, anklets, marbles, discarded serial lights, caps and covers of all types, plastic, engraved snuff boxes, mobile boxes, discarded Barbie dolls or whatever catches their fancy are used. They are helped by their extended families and shopkeepers in town. “We do not throw out any waste without the trio inspecting it,’’ says Ravi Kumar, a neighbour who runs a shop in Bidadi.

The trio made a replica of the late king of Mysore with an old Nokia phone box. Bharath Kumar is now working on a small replica of the Sabarimala temple with the 18 steps leading to it.

Bharath Kumar’s father says that his son has been crafting such things ever since he was a child. He would use discarded pieces of lining material and other fabrics from their cloth store-cum- home. Bharath Kumar later enrolled in a well-known arts school in Bangalore. The other two in the mission are Shashi Kumar Vand and Deepak NS. The former is an apprentice with a car manufacturer and helps hunt for material. Deepak NS is a class 10 student.