Navarathri is here and the city is in festive cheer. There are many aspects of the season that could help make it more earth friendly. While traditional practices were inherently ‘green’ with new age manufacturing and packaging, it is easy to fall off the green trail due to just the sheer availability, accessibility and costs involved in making the organic choice.
For example, as part of every house-visit during this time, there is a much awaited goodie bag with some prized yummy items packed in. We can feel good with just the thought of the packet of sundal, mixture or laddus we receive at every home. Even the picking of these items can be done sensibly. First, opt for homemade and less processed sweets and savouries.
Consider sweets made with jaggery and groundnuts or the traditional jaggery and puffed rice sweets rather than those with refined sugar and maida. These can cut calories and be healthier for your guests. Secondly, the packaging can be a disaster for the environment. Tiny plastic zip-locs which are food stained are not recyclable. So choose natural packing like the dried leaf dhonnais or the banana fibre over Styrofoam and plastic.
The golu dolls are displayed in almost every Tam-Bram’s home in all their colourful splendour. Made using mud or papier mache, these dolls come from different places in Tamil Nadu like Kanchipuram and Cuddalore. But newer dolls made of plastic with stamps of ‘Made in China’, and this is harmful to the environment. I recall growing small patches of vendiyam (fenugreek seeds), as these sprout quickly and can give the entire golu a nice natural touch.
Most dolls have been passed down through the generations and are never usually thrown away. But in case you are discarding any of them after this round, please do so responsibly. Golu stands are almost always lit up with small serial lights. With LED lights easily available in the market, these are low-energy choices that could be very effective as well as festive.
Be proud of your ethnicity and do the rounds wearing clothes whose fabrics are woven by local craftsmen. It promotes local industries and encourages weavers to continue with their trade. Participate in functions of other communities and regional gatherings like the Bengalis’ Durga pooja or the Gujaratis’ Dandiya Raas. It encourages intercultural understanding and will surely enrich your lives.
This is also a time for giving and sharing with the less privileged. There are old homes and orphanages to visit during the festival that celebrates the vanquishing of ignorance. Overall, it is important to remember that any festival can be celebrated in an earth-friendly and inclusive manner by making the right choices. Let us celebrate responsibly and have a happy and green golu and Navarathri season.
The writer is an architect, urban designer, dancer and chief designer at Shilpa Architects