Ganesha festival is celebrated across India with high fervour. The festival is often more than just a celebration in several communities. The statue of Lord Ganesha is often booked way in advance, and after the festival ends it is immersed in water bodies. This is why it is very important to know what materials are used in making these statues and how is it affecting the ecology of these water bodies.
In 2017, more than 2 lakh idols were immersed in Mumbai’s water bodies including Juhu Chowpaty, Girgaon Chowpaty, Powai lake, Marve Beach and Gorai Beach. Majority of these statues are made of Plaster of Paris. It can take several months or even years for these statues to completely dissolve in the water. The colours used to decorate these statues often contain harmful chemicals such as Lead and Mercury which are harmful for the aquatic lives in these water bodies.
The festival is accounts to religious and emotional sentiments of many. The celebration of it brings joy, unity and prosperity for many. However, celebrating it while protecting the environment will only create a win-win situation. Many Eco Ganesha initiatives have been taken across the country to celebrate the festival with ardour without causing harm to the environment.
In Maharashtra, an NGO Sprouts Environmental Trust, is creating idols of lord Ganesha using fish food. The colours used to decorate this are made from turmeric, chandan and gheru. This makes the idol eco friendly and the aquatic life in the water bodies can eat them after they are immersed.
In Hyderabad, the government, with help from NGOs and activists, took up to make idols made from clay for the festival. The government has also invested in making ponds exclusive for immersion in order to protect the water bodies.
In 2017, in Bengaluru, an activist group called as the National Environment Care Foundation came up with an idea of creating a clay idol with a sapling inserted in it. This way, when the festival is over, if the statue is immersed in a pit with some water instead of a water body, a plant would grow out of it.
In Mumbai, a former commercial designer Rintu Rathod, who is a baker now, came up with an idea of creating her idol of lord Ganesha using chocolate. She then immerses this statue in milk instead of water and distributes this chocolate milkshake among children in the orphanages.
According to the Vedic texts in Hinduism, maintaining ‘Rita’ or a universal, cosmic and natural order is very important. By destroying the environment for celebrating a festival, we are not really serving the purpose of the religion. It is only when the balance is maintained, and the worship is done with a clear heart, can we really make the lords happy.
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The CSR Journal Team