Rintu Kalyani Rathod needs no introduction. We all know her as the maker of Chocolate Ganesha Idols which are immersed in milk and the resultant chocolate milk is then fed to hundreds of underprivileged kids in Mumbai and across! She innovated an Eco-Friendly Ganapati idea for the Ganpati Festival which became a rage in Mumbai and now many have followed suit and made her passion theirs. Today many have adapted the idea of loving the environment and not spreading waste which is non-biodegradable in the name of festivities.
A designer by profession and a home baker by choice she specializes in life-sized cakes and sculpted chocolate marvels! Her gorgeously designed wedding cakes and tailor-made special occasion confections are simply irresistible when it comes to taste or intricacies. Featured in DNA and Better India and all major publication forums it is an honor to be interviewing Rintu Kalyani Rathod!
Hi Rintu Ji, welcome to WinningStree! It is a pleasure seeing you continue working towards The EcoFriendly Ganesha Experience. How does it feel after so many years?
“Hi, Tanusri. I feel blessed! And I feel Bappa has chosen me, I am the chosen one. I am the medium to spread knowledge about our responsibility towards nature, and I keep doing my bit year after year. During the current times, COVID-19 is nothing but nature’s response to our exploitation. We are all locked up inside which shows aptly that humans only have destructed what was a treasure for them. In a month of lockdown, pollution levels came down. We must save the environment and I am doing my bit towards that bigger responsibility. Every act helps, every step saves the environment. If with the pandemic, we haven’t learned our lessons yet, when will we learn.”
Absolutely Rintu Ji! I also wanted to wish you well and I hope that you and your family are safe and sound during this pandemic….
“Yes Tanusri, we are doing fine. We are safe as we are following all the guidelines as laid down by the government. We are following all the social distancing and hygiene norms. By Bappa’s grace, we are fine.”
Last year you innovated the kheer Ganesha. How did it go? And How do these innovative ideas come to you?
“It went well and many people liked the Kheer Ganesha idea. These innovative ideas are nothing but my Bappa’s eternal presence in my life and Lord Ganesha’s divine inspiration. He directs and I act. If you know I am also the founder of “The Food Army”, which was also another way to act and contribute towards society during any natural calamity. Many women and men have associated themselves with this noble cause and are contributing in ways possible to give back to the needy and the society at large.”
Yes, we have heard about your Food Army and also mentioned it on our WinningStree of the Week Feature of You. Your work has been commendable with the food army. Be it floods in Kerala or anywhere else, your army was working towards getting the supplies onboard to the affected place.
“Yes Tanusri, I greatly believe that, when you have a noble thought and a noble deed in your heart, the entire universe will conspire and come together to make it happen for you. I am no one you see without my army. Our Food Army is blessed to have the right support from the right section of the society. We also have doctors associated who helped genuine cases during the pandemic. If you believe in something just take the first step and gradually progress towards your goal, your mission, and your vision. If you do not believe in yourself no one will.”
How inspiring and humble thought there coming for all strees directly from you mam. This year we saw a corona induced lockdown. How has the lockdown been for you? Any unique experiences that you would want to share?
“Yes, this corona induced lockdown was really special. As you know I do take workshops for sculpting the chocolate Ganesha which by Bappa’s blessings has been a popular choice. A few years ago, I was reluctant to the idea of teaching Chocolate Ganpati online as I felt it lacked that personal touch. But I had to start when people staying in other cities and countries insisted on it.
Who knew a time would come when I would be forced to teach only online, that to a person staying just a lane away! So, we took over the sessions during this lockdown online and saw huge participation there from all Bappa Bhakts. People from all around the world could join the workshop and there was no charge for it. I was ordered to teach as many people as I can without any fees by the divine as nobody should be left out because of the price of the workshop. I received more than 2400 registrations for the Ganesha Workshop from 45 different countries!!
India, United States, Sweden, Netherlands, UK, Ireland, Oman, Kenya, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand, UAE, Russia, Germany, France, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Hongkong, Japan, Mauritius, Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, Qatar, and Uganda were some of the countries from where enthusiastic people approached me for the workshop.
For the full video, Do check out her youtube channel – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5muiO0Doh4
What an amazing feeling this was during the lockdown! Looks like my dream of making the chocolate Ganpati global came true this year. I have also uploaded it on YouTube so that no one misses it. This was the most beautiful experience ever. My guarantee to people who attended the workshop was to be able to make the most beautiful Bappa ever. “
“THE ONLY CONDITION was that these people HAVE TO PROMISE BAPPA THAT THEY WILL ONLY WORSHIP THE IDOL MADE BY THEM. THEY WILL NOT BRING ANY OTHER IDOL FROM OUTSIDE.”
Such a noble deed on your part mam. How thoughtful of you to arrange for a workshop so that people didn’t have to go out and do everything staying inside their houses. Uploading it on YouTube too especially benefits people who might have missed it otherwise.
“Tanusri, my idea was to inspire people as an order from the divine to do everything from “Sarjan to Visarjan” at their homes. This year has been extremely difficult for the entire world and Bappa ordered all of us to change the way we worship him to get his divine blessings. It is Bappa’s wish that people make his idols with their own hands and then worship that idol with all their hearts and complete faith. “Sarjan to Visarjan”, everything should happen within their houses. Parvati Mata had made Ganesh Ji, the same way which makes this ideal.”
That seems a very beautiful thought for strees reading this, inspiring them to be the Parvati of their lives. So, do you have classes also for the Kheer Ganesha that you had innovated last year as well?
“Kheer Ganesha involves a very complex making process which is why this year with so much already going on, I did not attempt to take online classes for the same. However, I have that on my agenda for next year and will surely come up with classes for the same next year. But I am taking orders for people who want me to make a Kheer Ganesha or Chocolate Ganesha for them.”
Understanding the current situation and since Corona is still spreading like fire, how has, “The Food Army”, contributed to COVID-Relief?
“The Food Army has since day 1 of the lockdown contributed in many ways. It has been one of the toughest tightropes to walk for us. The Food Army is known to reach out to people during any calamity. We knew it was time to do our bit when the lockdown started.
On the one hand, we wanted to help people, but on the other, we didn’t want to put our volunteers’ lives at risk. We didn’t want to break the lockdown rules and create more problems for the government by widening the curve. On top of that in the Food Army, we never accept monetary donations. Our usual drives where we count on the general public for their contributions in kind were not possible either, due to the lockdown. Things seemed impossible.”
“It was tough, but as they say, when there’s a will there’s a way. We appointed volunteers area-wise and decided to work in our individual capacity, only in our area without leaving our houses as far as possible. And our isolated efforts have created a huge collective impact!
For the last two months, we have been giving information, providing groceries, meals, medicines, counseling, taking care of the senior citizens, and helping people in every way possible! We have also supported different organizations that are also working for the cause (have been receiving 3 to 4 such requests every day for the last two months from known and unknown people/organizations and have helped as many as we could. It was heartbreaking where we couldn’t).
The Food Army is blessed to have the most enthusiastic, dedicated, and committed volunteers! Because of them, all this became possible. Our most challenging, tiring, and longest drive ever, that has been going on for the entire lockdown period non-stop and we have managed without any outside help!”
Hats off to the Food Army Efforts and a special Thanks to all your efforts mam in bringing up chocolate idols of Ganesha to save the environment. Ganapati Festival is a wave in Maharashtra. People go crazy there during Ganapati Utsav. I am sure it takes a lot of your hard work, sleepless nights to bring out these intricately done idols which yet again you deliver with a smile acting as the chosen one honestly.
“Sarjan to Visarjan is a feeling. You have to feel this inside you to be able to deliver. It is like meditation to me.”
With corona to be around till probably 2021 and online to be surely staying as the medium for contact across cities and countries mainly. What are your plans for the future in terms of the Ganpati Festival and your work too?
“Yes, online is here to stay and I plan to deliver online sessions. I already conducted an online workshop a few days before the Ganesh Chaturthi to teach all how to make the Ganpati idol from both chocolate and clay. People got the choice to make it from either, as per their convenience.
I also wish to promote awareness of the environment with my chocolate Ganesha. It is high time we realized what nature wants to say to us. If we do not listen to the Mother Earth now, she definitely will keep repeating such pandemics in the future to make us realize her worth.”
Any message that you want the strees to know and how important is it for them to take the first plunge. Also how much does her family support matter?
“As a women entrepreneur myself, I have been blessed to get support from my family always. I have a very supportive husband. Yes, families support matters for a woman who is trying to stand on her own feet. However, in case it is missing, she has to still go on. Without stopping she has to make the journey and keep going.”
Since you have a very special relation with Ganesha any special prayers that you want to be granted during this unique time?
“My prayers to Bappa is to bless all. Bappa cast his blessings on the entire world as we all are together suffering from this pandemic. Also, praying to Lord Ganesha to forgive us for our sins. Please Bappa turn things back to normal. Make the world a better place for all of us.”
That is a beautiful prayer, Ma’am. May Ganesha bless you and us with a corona free world this year. On that note, we would take your leave. It was a blessing for us to be with you today at WinningStree.
You are a WinningStree who inspires many more strees to become WinningStrees of their lives.
Thank You for Being You. May Bappa Bless You.