Ganesh Chaturthi is a loved festival of the Hindus. It is celebrated with a lot of pomp and show in various parts of India, and more so in the South. Mythology has it, that the elephant god comes riding on his ‘Mooshik’ (a rat) and removes all the obstacles in one’s life. Lord Ganesh is the most worshipped God by the Hindus. He is also revered as a God of wisdom and a connoisseur of arts and sciences.
According to tradition, an idol of Lord Ganesh, made of clay, is brought home and worshipped on the day of Ganesh Chaturthi. The idol is kept for 9 days, and then immersed into waters of a river or lake along with all the items with which it was worshipped. It is believed that by immersing the idol in water, Lord Ganesha is sent back to his home at Mount Kailash, where his parents Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati reside.
The Ganesha idols are placed not only at homes, but also on various spots in the streets. Very beautiful idols in various postures of Ganesha are to be seen all over cities and towns. The idols come in all shapes and sizes. Many idols are more than 10 feet high and weigh in tons. Tallest of the idols are huge towering structures, reaching dizzying heights of 60 feet or so. Huge processions are carried out in the cities while bringing and submerging the idols. These days most of the idols are made up of plaster of Paris (POP), rather than clay. POP does not dissolve in water and contains many harmful chemicals. Some states have banned POP Ganesha idols. However, there needs to be a lot more effort at individual and community levels to make the festival a completely eco-friendly one. Here are some tips for doing the same.
- Bring an Eco-friendly Ganesha Idol: Ganesha idols made of clay are gaining popularity these days. Creative ideas, like Seed-Ganesha, are gaining popularity ( Seed-Ganesha is a clay idol with seeds inside it. After the pooja, on the day of immersion, the idol can be watered down into a flower pot, and the seeds will sprout in a few days). Papier mache Ganesha idols and idols made up of cow-dung are other eco-friendly options.
- Make Eco-friendly Decorations: While many people take care of buying an eco-friendly Ganesha, they forget the same caution when decorating the Ganesha. Instead of using plastic papers and toxic glues, decorate your Ganesha with natural flowers, fruits and leaves.
- Use Smoke-free Aroma Diffusers: Lighting incense sticks near the idol is a routine while offering prayers. But the incense sticks from market emit lot of smoke. Use smoke-free aroma diffusers with essential oils to have your place smelling heavenly. Mesmara has a huge range of essential oils and a variety of aroma diffusers.
- Use Chemical-free Colours for Rangoli: During festival time, the front yard of houses adorn beautiful rangolis. In earlier days, rangolis were only made of rice powder. However, these days colourful rangolis have taken the fancy of people. They make the entrance look bright and cheerful. Often the colours used for making rangolis are laden with chemicals. Care must be taken to use chemical-free rangoli colours. You can also make colourful rangolis using flower petals instead of colours.
- Save Electricity: Lighting enhances the festive atmosphere. Ganesha decorations at home and at public pandals involve lighting. These lights consume a lot of electricity, as the festival continues for 9 days. To go green, switch off the lighting during daytime and switch it on only when it is dark. Not only will you be saving electricity for the environment, but also you will be saving on the huge bills too.
- Reduce Noise Pollution: Dance and song programmes and loud music are a part of the festivities of Ganesh Chaturthi. Communities get together, and young and old alike participate in these programmes. However, the blaring mikes and loud sounds can cause noise pollution. Not only do they disturb those who are not participating, they can also cause harm to animals and birds which have much more sensitive hearing than humans. While no one would stop you from celebrating, you could always do that with lesser noise.
- Immerse Locally: Immersion of Lord Ganesha’s idol is another challenge. Why not create an artificial immersion tank in your neighbourhood and immerse all the Ganesha idols of the neighbourhood in that tank? You could also immerse the idols in a pond near your house rather than in water bodies which are sources of drinking water.
Indian festivals form a huge part of our customs and traditions. While we all want to pass the traditions down to our next generations, let’s not leave them in a mess by destroying the environment. Let us use the festivals as a means to teach our children not only our traditions but also our values of being conscious of our environment. Happy Ganesh Chaturthi to all the subscribers of Mesmara!