It’s high time we take steps to stop ‘over-producing’ pollution! Do we want our children to just listen to the stories “How once Ganesh Idols were immersed in rivers after Ganesh Chaturthi celebration” or we actually want them to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi as we do- with joy and fervor and by immersing the Ganesh idols with all the proper rituals? But this is possible only when our rivers are saved and when the environment remains clean and safe for our children to keep healthy. A healthy body can only know the joys of worldly festive! If you do want your children to enjoy Ganesh Chaturthi as you yourself do, then you should start celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi in an eco-friendly way. Then only can you save the water resources from getting polluted. And saving water means saving future of our children! Here are tips on how to celebrate Eco friendly Ganesh Chaturthi this year and all the years to come.
Celebrate with Eco Friendly Ganesh Idols
The most hazardous impact during Ganesh Chaturthi celebration comes from the immersion of non biodegradable Ganesh idols. These idols, mostly made of plaster of Paris (POP) are lighter and cheaper and thus have become favorite for all the community Ganesh Puja pandals as well as at many homes. Lets know why POP Ganesh idols are not eco friendly!
How does POP Ganesh Idols Pollute Water Bodies?
Do you know, plaster of Paris (POP) has such chemicals in it as gypsum, sulfur, phosphorus, and magnesium. Also the chemical dyes used to paint these idols contain heavy metals and traces of mercury, cadmium, arsenic, lead, and carbon. And what more, idols are becoming larger and larger year after year. This means more POP and more chemical dyes immersed in our rivers, seas, pond and all the water bodies to let them choke to death!
- All the non biodegradable chemicals and metals make the acidity level of rivers higher than ever. This, in turn, kills the flora and fauna of the water body. While celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra, especially in Mumbai, it is a common sight to see dead fish floating near sea shore after mass immersion of Ganesh idols!
- Those who use this water where Ganesh idols are immersed, suffer from various health problems like lungs infections, skin diseases, blood related issues and and problems in eyes.
- Also when you consume fish, you never know from where they are coming. If they have been fished from water polluted by immersion of these non-biodegradable Ganesh idols, you too may experience a lots of health issues.
Why not we again turn back to our roots and use the plain humble clay to make green Ganesh idols. We can take some other steps too so as to stop this pollution due to immersion of Ganesh idols.
Tips for Eco-Friendly Ganesh Idols and their Immersion
- Do not buy Ganesh idols that are made of chemicals, Plaster of Paris, plastic, thermocol (polystyrene) etc.
- Buy Ganesh idol made up of natural, biodegradable material such as clay! Clay, being natural does not pollute water and our surroundings. In fact, Shadu idols are worshiped in Maharashtra traditionally since ancient times. Shadu is a type of clay found by the river banks and do not pollute environment. Sometimes, they may cost a little more than the POP Ganesh idols but it is only a little price to pay to save the future of our children.
- You may even think of making clay Ganesh idol yourself. This will also save you some money and you will get immense satisfaction of making an Idol yourself.
- Not only clay, you may also make Ganesh idol with other ingredients such as paper pulp, popularly known as paper mache. Paper is a bio degradable substance and your paper mache Ganesh idol won’t pollute water when you immerse them.
- In fact, you can just let your imagination work and make Ganesh Idols with any ingredient which is natural and will not pollute the environment such as coconut shells, clothes and cotton (just as the soft toys are made), and so on.
- Paint your home made Ganesh idols with natural colors. These may include turmeric, multani mitti (Fuller’s earth), sindoor (vermilion) and geru (an earthy red color). You may also use spinach paste, beetroot juice, rice paste to get different colors like green, red and white. Your eco friendly Ganesh idol need not be unattractive. Nature has provided many colors in form of flowers and natural ingredients. Just make use of them.
- If you don’t want to take so much of pain in making colors, buy natural vegetable colors for painting.
- If, however, you are buying an eco friendly Ganesh idol instead of making it, ensure to ask the vendor about the paints used to color the idol. Buy only if they have been painted with natural colors.
- If you are in no mood to buy eco friendly Ganesh idol or make one every year, just do this. Get a permanent Ganesh Idol made up of stone like marble or wood or metal such as brass or copper etc. Or you may worship your own Ganesh idol that you worship daily as your puja ritual. Worship this metal or wood idol during Ganesh Chaturthi days as per the set traditions.
- On the day of Ganesh visarjan, immerse the idol in a bucket full of water with all the mantras and hymns that you would recite while immersing the idol in a water body. Then keep this Ganesh idol in your Puja room again and worship as usual. This symbolic immersion of Ganesh idol is also a good way to observe an eco friendly Ganesh Chaturthi. This will definitely reduce your carbon foot prints and believe me, God will be really happy that you understand your responsibility of protecting environment and nature.
- If you want to participate in the procession for Ganesh Visarjan, take this Idol with you to the water source, hold it under the water for some time but don’t leave it to immerse there. Take it back with you to your home and re-establish at your home.
Eco-friendly Decoration During Ganesh Chaturthi
Now come to the second biggest reason of pollution during Ganesh Chaturthi celebration- the unthoughtful decoration of Ganesh Idols and the places where the Lord is worshiped- community centers, pandals, as well as homes. We use plastic and thermacol accessories to not only decorate the idols but also the pandals etc. These ingredients too are not biodegradable and thus an hazard to our environment. We do not bother to remove these accessories before immersing the idols in water which makes these water bodies even more polluted.
Photo credit- Craftziners
Tips for Eco-friendly Decoration of Ganesh Idols
Don’t use thermocol or plastic accessories to decorate Ganesh idol.
Use such natural things as cloth, wood, paper, flowers, leaves etc. that are natural and biodegradable even when you do not remove them and they get immersed in water with the idol. The best way to decorate is to use such natural things as grass. In fact, you can grow grass and then place your Ganesha idol over it for a complete eco-friendly decoration. How to do so? You will find it here- Decoration Ideas for Ganesh Chathurthi at Home
The best way to dispose off the accessories, however, is to remove them from the idol before immersing it into the water. You can then place the flowers, leaves and other organic material in the compost pit. These can then be used as natural fertilizers for your garden and plants. You can even bury them into the ground by digging a hole and then covering it with sand that was removed from the place.
Sometimes you would not like to use the flowers offered to the God to be used in the compost pit. If you must immerse them too, please wrap them first in a paper, like a newspaper instead of placing them in a polythene bag.
Eco-friendly Community Celebration on Ganesh Chaturthi
Bigger and even bigger Ganpati idols may be a sign of competitive spirit but they are not, in any way, good for environment! Bigger idols mean more money for getting them made, more materials for making them, more accessories to decorate them and more water space to immerse them and eventually more pollution of the environment! Worship the Lord during Ganesh Chaturthi and make your days full of joy but don’t ever believe in the theory that bigger your idol, the more famous your ‘Dekhawa’ will be! In fact, the more bigger the idol, the more pollution you are doing!
Tips for Eco-friendly Dekhawa and Pandals
Try to keep the height of Ganesh idols limited. For example, these may be, at maximum, 5 feet or 1.5 meters high. This will ensure lesser ingredients to make idols and lesser pollution of the water sources. Also, traffic congestions can be avoided as bigger idols need bigger road spaces that result into unnecessary longer traffic jams.
As far as possible, clay, paper mache or idols made of natural ingredients should be established in pandals instead of PoP idols.
Conserve electricity by using energy efficient ligting to decorated worship venues. These may include CFL, LED bulbs and tubes.
Do not let the lights to be kept switched on for whole day. Light them only in the evening and during aarti and puja.
Instead of using chemical based rangoli colors, use natural ingredients and colors to make rangoli. Some of such ingredients include turmeric, henna, rice powder etc.
Ban the use of plastic and polythene bags at the puja site. People bring things to offer to God in polythene bags and after offering the things, they let these bags litter here and there. Insist on using paper or cloth bags.
People should collaborate in neighborhood to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi as one community only. More pandals means more pollution due to more idols and other resources.
These days, government bodies make arrangements for artificial tanks to immerse the Ganesh idols. Make use of these tanks. This will not only save the natural water resources but will also keep you and your children healthy by not polluting the sources of your drinking water.
Many organizations declare ‘dekhava’ competitions during Ganesh Chaturthi. Dekhaves are the mythological and social scenes that form an integral part of community puja venues. These organizations that hold such competitions should give more weightage to eco-friendly ways of creating dekhavas while choosing the winners. This way, people can be encouraged to create environment friendly dekhavas.
Do you want this to happen to your God the day after Ganesh Visarjan?
Remember, we all are the caretakers of this planet, our planet! Awaken the spiritual you within yourself. It is not the pomp and show that counts, it is the actual prayer that is heard by the God! However, God doesn’t forbid you from enjoying while worshiping HIM. But he does forbid you from destroying his creation! Preserve Nature and have a Happy Eco Friendly Ganesh Chaturthi!
Unique Idea for Eco-friendly Ganesh Chaturthi- Chocolate Ganesha
Here is something unique done by Rintu Rathod of Santa Cruz, Mumbai. This year she created a Chocolate Ganesh Idol with a height of 32 inches. She had been using a clay Ganesha earlier every year and immersing it in an artificial tank but she wanted to do something that would not only stop any wastage but also be useful to the society. Therefore, she sculpted a Ganesha Idol using chocolate and food colors. She will immerse this idol in milk. The resulting chocolate milk will be distributed as ‘Prasad’ to the children in orphanages and under-privileged kids. This is something unique where an enlightened devotee has not only cared for environment but also has given a strong social message. As Rintu Rathod is a trained commercial designer who is into the art of making desserts, she could make a Chocolate Ganesha but anyone can come up with such unique ideas of celebrating eco-friendly Ganesha Utsav that not only prevent pollution but also check wastage of any kind!