Scriptures say that Ganesh festival originated as an expression of gratitude to planet earth. It is celebrated every year in a traditional way creating spiritual awareness among people. It must also be celebrated with the spirit of ecological sustainment and protection.
Celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi
Ganesh Chaturthi is the birthday of Lord Ganesha, which falls in the month of Bhadrapad – the months of August to September. This is celebrated for 10 days and on the eleventh day, the day of Anant Chaturdasi, the statue of Ganesha is immersed in a river, well or ocean, which is called Visarjan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1Po4Fsi69A As part of celebrations, on the day of the festival, Ganesha is placed on raised platforms for people to gather in tents or pandals set up in streets. These huge Ganesha statues are elaborately decorated with lights, garlands, along with various other decorations.
- The celebrations have caused severe threats to our environment and water bodies. People are unaware of the damages caused by use of Ganesh idols made of Plaster of Paris and the chemical paints used on them for decorative purposes.
- When immersion of Idols take place , people mindlessly dump thermacol, plastic flowers, camphor, cloth, even fresh flowers and garlands. They constitute non bio degradable waste that causes water pollution.
- When they are immersed they cause increased toxicity in water resulting in breathing problems and destruction of marine life. It increases the acidity in water leading to blood disorders and skin diseases. Heavy metals in Plaster of Paris cause digestive problems and kidney problems.
- This calls for responsible behavior in each citizen by adopting suitable measures to protect our environment and water resources.
Ways to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi in a eco friendly way
Use of natural clay Ganesha idols
- It is best to use natural clay Ganesha idols, paint it with turmeric, multani mitti and red sandalwood. It can be dissolved easily in a bucket of water and this can be used to water the plants.
- Avoid buying Ganesha statues made of Plaster of Paris, which is highly toxic in nature.
Use natural colors for Rangolis
- To draw colorful rangoli patterns before Ganesha, one can use natural and bio degradable colors like rice powder, henna, turmeric, gulal, sandalwood powder, flowers and avoid usage of chemical based colors.
Use of Flower Garlands
- People use artificial garlands to decorate Ganesha. Instead one can use garlands made of red hibiscus, Durva grass, pomegranate leaves, conch flowers and lotus.
Use of traditional earthen lamps
- One can use earthen lamps to light up their homes during Ganesh Chaturthi, instead of artificial lights.
Fresh flowers for decoration
- Instead of using artificial decorative materials, fresh flowers like jasmine, marigold and even rose petals can be used. Torans or door hangings can be made from mango leaves to decorate the doorway.
- It becomes very common to use plastics to carry offerings and offer them along with Ganesha while immersion. Plastics are an environmental hazard which do not dissolve in water and keep accumulating in water bodies causing stagnation and obstruction to water flow.
- Use of cloth, wood, paper and other natural materials are safer while immersion as they bio-degradable in nature. Instead of polythene bags, newspaper bags can be used.
- While immersion of idols, it is best not to throw flowers, garlands and other decorations with it. It can be rather collected and disposed in a garden.
- During celebrations, it is best to use banana leaves, paper bags, and newspaper bags for distributing Prasad, other food offerings and gifts.
Create compost pit
- After the celebrations collect all the flowers, garlands, paper, banana leaves and other bio degradable waste and put them in a compost pit. This can be used to fertilize plants and trees.
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