Let's do it this Time

Meticulous planning and enthusiasm to do your bit for the environment – is all that takes for an eco-friendly Ganesh festival

Published: 14th September 2015 04:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th September 2015 04:02 AM   |  A+A-

Hussainsagar’s lake bed has gone up by more that 20 ft over over the last decade, says a study.  This rise in the lake bed can be attributed to immersion of large Ganesh idols made of Plaster of Paris (PoP). The lake has also become toxic due to dissolved paints used for colouring the idols.

ganesh1.jpgThe time it takes for these harmful things to even settle down, is inversely proportional to the time we take to immerse many more Ganesh idols.

And that time of the year is here again. 

The Myth

The story we listen to every year – Goddess Parvati gave life to Lord Ganesha after creating him with natural ingredients she used for bathing. “That is the most widely accepted version of the story. Why don’t we too make our ghar ka Ganesha organic,” suggests environmentalist Arunjyothi Lokhanday, an hour after she completed ‘make your own clay Ganesha’ session at Our Sacred Space on Sunday. Close to 50 parents and children present were beaming with pride while taking home their clay Ganesha.

The Motto – Recycle

ganesh3.jpg“The idea is to spread awareness. I think when children are involved, it is slightly more impactful. Parents wish to encourage them. We are tapping into their creativity and in the process, doing our bit for the environment,”says Arunjyothi. It is not just clay Ganeshas. Natural colours for Holi, vegetable diyas for Diwali, paper bags – “anything that can be used once again, that is the motto,” says Arunjyothi, who has been teaching herself to be environment friendly since 2005.

She further explains, “We all know, PoP doesn’t dissolve in water. It is toxic. Clay dissolves in water and the water can be used. It is completely non-hazardous.”

The Alternatives

Besides clay, Arunjyothi has options that can make your this festival completely eco-friendly. “Multani Mitti paste, that works well for our skin can also be used to make an idol. Add a little turmeric powder. Lady’s finger paste works as adhesive,” she tells us. Avoid packaged turmeric powder. “It is always better to make the powder at home,” she advises.

Sprouts Environment Trust in Mumbai has developed this unique idea where the idols are made out of edible ingredients. This way, when you immerse the idols, aquatic animals can feed on these ingredients.

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Plan your festival

Besides replacing a PoP idol with one made of natural ingredients:

Opt for organic and paper decoration items to deck up Ganesha. Avoid use of thermocol and plastic.

Bury the flowers and fruit remains in a compost pit.

Instead of installing a Ganesha in every apartment complex or every lane in the colony, set up one medium-sized Ganesha for the entire colony. The amount of waste generated will come down drastically. It will also create an opportunity for colony members to bond with each other. If possible, look for an idol that is made with natural ingredients.

Use CFL bulbs for lighting. Even better, try and host activities in the early hours of morning or evening, before sunset. If it is not practical (considering work and school timings), to follow this programme on all the days, you can plan this for specific days.

Festival time means a number of fun activities. This year, include a skit, a song, or a speech that talks about eco-friendly Ganesh Chaturthi. Host a competition and reward people or apartment complexes that celebrate it in the most eco-friendly way.

Generating discussions among people of different age groups can also add to the larger cause.

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