Fancy pandals all over, lights looming large, noisy speakers disturbing the sanity of the city, is this what Lord Ganesh really wants this Ganesh Chaturthi? RobinAge finds out
Alomi Parikh, a class 7 student from J B Petit School, believes in celebrating a green Ganesh Chaturthi. She says, "I think people should adopt eco-friendly ways to decorate the pandals. Instead of using plastic decorations we can use natural flowers, fruits and grains and keep up the good spirit." Her sentiments are echoed across the city. Bhavna Punjabi, a class 7 student from Utpal Sanghvi School, believes that God does not need any make-up or noise or even decorations. She adds, "Before we get into the festive mood, we need to stop and think about the hazards of celebrating a non eco-friendly Ganesh festival."
Bhavna cites the use of Plaster of Paris (POP) to make idols and continues, "We use POP to make these idols, but that is highly dangerous, as POP does not completely dissolve in water. I strongly believe that people should opt for eco-friendly Ganesh idols. Eco-friendly Ganesh idols are easily available and are made of clay that easily dissolves in water without posing a threat to the marine life. Additionally, the paint which is used on the POP idols is made of hazardous chemicals. When we immerse the idols, the chemicals leach into the water and this affects the aquatic animals and plants. It's ultimately our loss."
However, switching to eco-friendly idols is not the only solution. Rina from the Children's Movement for Civic Awareness (CMCA) says, "Revellers need to reduce the use of thermocol in decoration too, as it cannot be, disposed of very easily. One always finds thermocol floating in the sea and drains after the festival!" She adds, "Another factor that needs to be taken into consideration is the use of loud speakers. Children need to request their society and people in their neighbourhood to ensure that the speakers are turned down. The volume needs to be maintained at a decibel level that does not disturb old people, children and pets. Many people have even adopted the idea of buying small silver or copper Ganesh idols so that they can be kept at home right through the year. This is another excellent way of saving the environment."
HERE ARE SOME SIMPLE WAYS TO GO GREEN
Size: Buy small Ganesh idols which are easier to immerse. Both small and big idols have the same significance, but a smaller idol contributes towards reducing water pollution.
Materials: Opt for Ganesh idols that are made from clay and mud and painted with natural colours like vegetable dyes. These substances are eco-friendly and dissolve easily in water. They are slightly more expensive than traditional idols but are worth it when considering the limited damage they cause to the environment.
Idols: Instead of buying a new idol every year, simply use a brass idol and carry it to the sea for immersion. After immersing it in the sea, it can be brought back home and used for the next year. By this method, you will save on expenditure as well as reduce pollution.
Loudspeakers: During the festival, many Ganesh pandals play loud music throughout the day. Banning or reducing the use of loudspeakers will go a long way in reducing noise pollution. Another way of reducing noise pollution would be if you could just chant, "Ganpati Bappa Morya" without using loudspeakers.
Decorations: Do not use thermocol or plastic as decorations for your Ganesh pandal. Instead, use cloth, wood, paper and other natural materials that are safer when immersed in water or can be reused. To decorate the idol you can collect the coconut shells used for prasad, break them into half, paint them, place tiny candles on them and use them as diyas.
Crackers: Try to avoid crackers. The toxic fumes emitted from crackers are not only bad for the environment but the explosions are also harmful for your ears.
Immersion: If your idol is small, fill a bucket or tub with water and immerse the idol in it. Once it has dissolved, use the water for plants. In case the idol is large, create an artificial pond for immersion.
Flowers: Most people visiting your home during the Ganesh festival will bring flowers to offer. When these flowers dry up, they are usually immersed in a pond or the sea. Instead, mix these dried flowers with soil and once this decomposes use it as compost for your garden.
Pandals: Instead of every society celebrating the festival and building their own pandal, reduce the number of pandals to reduce all kinds of pollution associated with the festival.
Innovation: You can try making idols at home too. Use raw materials like jute, dried vegetables and weaver birds' nests. Another way of making idols is on clay pots by painting the picture of Lord Ganesh and using it as an idol.