Let’s Celebrate Eco-friendly Ganesha Festival during COVID-19
Ganesh Chaturthi, an Indian festival celebrated as the birth anniversary of Lord Ganesha all over India but Maharashtra and south India have great enthusiasm for this festival. Every Mumbaikar waits for a whole year for these 10 days and celebrates the festival with great pomp and show. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray called for a simple and low-key Ganpati festival celebration, as per Hindustan Times. The government is trying to conduct the festival with elaborated planning following social distancing, proper sanitization, and screening. According to BMC officials, this year’s number of applications for Ganpati pandal setup permission is very less compared to previous years. Most of the pandals are planning to run blood donation and health camps with an impressive amount of donation to the chief minister relief fund for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
Though the festival is not limited to a pandal celebration, most people buy Ganesha idol for their home & shops too. Normally idols are made of POP (Plaster of Paris), and it is non-biodegradable and the paints are poisonous. Unfortunately, this way we harm the environment and aquatic life badly.
However, there are many ways wherein we can celebrate the festival in an Eco-friendly way and reduce our negative impact on the environment
Opt for Idols made of Eco-friendly material
Buy Eco-friendly Ganesha idols, go for a smaller size which can be easily immersed in a bucket of water at home. Shop locally and from the people who are using Eco products like mud, clay, seeds, grains, paper, wheat, soy, corn, chocolate.
You can DIY idols with chocolate at home, which can be immersed in milk and the resulting chocolate milkshake can be distributed to orphanages. Seed idol is another great example of an Eco-friendly idol with seeds embedded. After the total decomposition of the idol in the pot, the seed will germinate into a beautiful plant. It is like giving a new life to the festival.
Eco-friendly Ganesha is completely biodegradable. They don’t have any toxic compound or chemical used in making which can be hazardous for the environment. Nowadays many companies are selling Eco-friendly Ganesha listed at the end of this article. While in this COVID-19 pandemic, some of the volunteers are also providing door to door, contact-less delivery of Eco-friendly Ganesha by following social distancing and every guideline of government in the context of COVID-19.
We can also celebrate this auspicious festival with collaborative brotherhood in this tough time of pandemic by sharing a single idol and doing all rituals collectively with happiness or replacing the temporary idol with a permanent idol that would be worshiped each year.
The Eco-friendly idols may be more expensive than the traditional POP ones, but the difference in cost is not significant when we think of the harms it caused to the environment.
Avoid & Ban Ganesha made of POP or hazardous chemicals
Generally, plaster of Paris, plastic, cement, Toxic paints is used for making and decorating Ganesha idols. These materials do not completely dissolve in water after immersion(Ganpati visarjan) leading to disastrous impacts on the environment and water bodies. Exaltation of the festival makes people forgetful about the harm they are making to the mother earth and the environment. A lot of waste like flowers, fruits, polythenes is generated after the 10 day festival around nearby water bodies. Pollution is created by:
Toxic Chemicals in PoP
Plaster of Paris (POP) is not a natural material that contains calcium sulfate hemihydrate, a material that takes months or years to fully dissolve in water and in-process poison the water bodies reducing oxygen levels killing marine lives.
Chemical effects on soil and water
The more colorful and bright idol, more pollution it will cause
These idols are often decorated and painted with chemical paints that contain mercury, lead, cadmium, and carbon and this increases the acidity and heavy metal content in the water. These toxic materials contaminate the water which can cause skin disease and cause severe infection through seafood.
Marine life is in danger
Due to the heavy immersion of idols into water bodies affecting marine life badly. Colors used to paint the idols contain toxic metals like mercury, zinc oxide, chromium, and lead, which are potent carcinogens and cause metal pollution that can damage the ecosystem. it kills fishes, damages plants, blocks the natural flow of the water, causing stagnation.
Artificial Immersion Tanks
The year 2020 has made us change so many things so we can also make a change this Ganesha Chaturthi. Instead of idol immersion in a lake, river, or sea, we can get together with our neighbors and make an artificial tank for the holy ritual. The artificial immersion tank is a common tank for a particular area for idol immersion. The only thing we need to take care of is the decomposition of the water and residual in the tank.
Use natural colors for Rangoli
Say No to chemical-based colors available in the market. As we are currently doing everything at home so make this year a colorful rangoli with rice flour, turmeric powder, sandalwood, Heena, etc. because every color is available at home. We can try rangoli with flowers and petals.
We can make this festival more Eco-friendly, energy-efficient, and joyful by lighting diyas or tea light candles, and LED or energy-efficient lights. Ganesha is coming to our home so let’s make it more naturally this year.
Plastic is a true daemon to earth. We should unite together and kill it at this Ganesha festival. You can serve food in natural plates such as banana leaves or Biodegradable Plates which are easily available in markets and use cloth bags that can be reused. Pledge not to use plastic at least during celebration because a lot of waste is dumped into the water bodies.
Compost pit for Organic material
We can be more attentive towards the environment and climate change. A compost pit is a great idea for organic material. Generally, it can be shared with neighbors in societies and localities but in today’s scenario, it is better to stay home and create a compost pit for biodegradable waste like flowers, offerings, garlands from pooja, and decorations. All organic waste generated can be used in gardens or you can donate to farms and society parks.
Spread Awareness on Eco-friendly Ganesha
Awareness is the key to a better future. Make your near and dear ones know about the Eco-friendly Ganesha and celebrate this festival with them. Make them understand how much our water bodies and the environment get affected by the immersion of POP idols.
Make kids agents of change
Why not gather the neighborhood kids and explain the various environmental pitfalls of a regular Ganesh Chaturthi? Ask them to get residents to sign a petition that binds them to several Eco-friendly measures while celebrating the Ganesh Chaturthi. This will introduce children to the importance of being Eco-friendly and make them catalysts of change as well.
We cannot please God by destroying the nature which He has created. So let’s take a pledge to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi or any other festival in an eco-friendly way. Put a complete ban on POP idols as it contains chemical and synthetic paints and does not dissolve easily in water. Buy or make Eco-friendly Ganesha at home. Create awareness and spread the word.
In our next article, we’ve shared different types of Eco-Friendly Ganesha and where to buy them online.
Happy Ganesh Chaturthi and have modak.