Ganesha Says Think Green

Celebrating Ganesha Chaturthi in Eco friendly way-

India is a  the land of varied culture and tradition… a land of festivals and fairs. Whether you go to the east or west, north or south, you would be able to enjoy our festivals which speak of India ‘s rich culture and tradition background. Festivals are an integral part of every Indian . Festivals are a tool to bring life to a state of exuberance and enthusiasm. Festivals play an important part in promoting the traditional handicrafts and tourism of India too.

Ganesha Chaturthi is one such festival which  is round the corner. This is celebrated in honour of Lord  Ganesha.  Ganesha festival involves installing clay images of God Ganesha which are worshipped for ten days with different types of leaves and plants. These are immersed at the end of the festival in a water-body  such as lake or river  along with the idol. Addition of herbal and medicinal leaves like  patri, tulsi  etc. was done to purify the water of the lake. This was a practice  earlier  to protect people from infections and viral diseases especially in this season.

Now a days we celebrate our festivals  in a more  materialistic  manner changing  form and meaning completely. Our joy and happiness lies on disturbing our Mother Nature. Emphasis is now on cost and looks.  We want our Ganesha idol to be of less cost but vibrant in colours and looks. We are not aware of materials used for making and decorating the  idols of  God Ganesha.

Traditionally Ganesha idol was made of natural clay or Shadu clay (river clay). Vegetable colours were used to paint the idols. Now ‘Plaster of Paris’ is widely used for making Ganesha idol which is not at all Eco-friendly. Reason being PoP Ganesha is cheaper and easier to make than Eco friendly Ganesha. Artificial colours used to paint idols have heavy metals and carcinogenic chemicals which can eventually lead to death of many aquatic animals and poison stray animals who may drink from such water.

How eco-unfriendly is idols made out of PoP and artificial paints-

-PoP is a building material made from Gypsum which is heated up to 150 degC. It is an insoluble powder and forms an impermeable layer on the bottom of pond or lake.

-Research says that the oxygen level falls drastically after Ganesh Visarjan and concentration of substances like calcium, magnesium, silicon and heavy metals like arsenic, lead and mercury show significant increase after Visarjan.

-Lead used in colour for making PoP idol affect heart, kidney, and nervous system. Use of lead ranges from 6 to 10 micrograms which should practically be ZERO.

-In lakes, rivers natural water springs may get blocked with PoP deposition and it can also cause decrease in depth of water body.

Go for Eco friendly Ganesha

Go for idols made of Shadu, papier mâché, flowers and fruits, baked clay, marble, jute, bamboo and cane.  Ensure that the dyes used to colour the idols are organic or vegetable in origin. One of the best option for Eco friendly Ganesh idols is Papier mache  idols made from paper pulp, natural adhesive from tree. For Puja at home, traditional Ganesha can be made of turmeric, cow dung or rice flour.  Many homes use stone, wood or metal Ganesha’s and do a symbolic immersion. Instead of thermocol and plastic decorations, use cloth, wood, paper, and other natural materials that are safer when immersed in water.

   The hopeful future of Ganesh Chaturthi - an idol constructed of three coconuts

Safe and Symbolic Immersion

Save our water bodies

Traditionally Ganesh idols are to be immersed in natural water bodies such as rivers, lake, ponds and sea. Thermocol mantaps, plastic flowers and offerings in plastic bags when immersed during Visarjan,  will clog the water flow. The waste needs to be segregated and disposed as per guidelines given by local governing authority. Trained swimmers may be employed to avoid drowning accidents. Usage of water from these polluted water bodies have caused a host of health problems such as lung infection, and diseases of skin, blood, and eyes.

Example of an abandoned Plaster of Paris Ganesh idol

Growing awareness about water pollution during Visarjan has introduced the ideas of symbolic immersion and usage of eco friendly artificial ponds. Stone, metal or wooden idols are symbolically immersed in a bucket of water, or even carried in procession to a natural water body, held under the water, and then brought back home. Some homes use symbolic betel-nut to carry rituals and puja. Later this betel-nut is immersed in water within the house.

One Ganesha for one society

May be this is not in the practice but to save our nature we could think in positive and creative way. People   can adopt this eco friendly concept to bring one Ganesh idol only within the society and celebrate in collective way. Also: Same idol could be installed every year to avoid devastation caused by Visarjan. God’s blessings will always be with you for preserving the nature.

No crackers or very less crackers. Bursting crackers are not only make noise pollution but it’s also the reason for air pollution. Say big NO to crackers or use very less amount of crackers. It saves your money and nature too.

Protect Mother Nature by celebrating Ganesha festival in a Eco friendly way. This is our Duty towards nature.

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