How Enterprising Schoolgirls in Assam Patrolled Puja Mandaps to Ensure Eco-friendly Celebrations

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The Green Police isn’t a group of tree huggers who are keen on protecting the environment, but a group of 25 girls from Nagaon Bengali Girls High School; they have been striving to keep public spaces clean and green in their city in Assam. And on October 12, they fetched their district an award from the administration for the most eco-friendly puja celebrations.

Instead of spending their holidays gorging on sweets and clicking photographs in new clothes, these girls decided to forego all the festivities to create awareness about the negative consequences of improper waste disposal and reckless littering.


Image for representation only. Source:Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL, CC BY 3.0, GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

They positioned themselves around the two most crowded puja mandaps in Nagaon – Nagaon Bengali Sanmilan Puja Mandap and Ramkrishna Mission Puja – to keep a strict vigil over the visitors on all five days of the festivities.

But they did more than just patrolling puja mandaps; they spread Gandhi’s message about cleanliness to the people in attendance and also made basic garbage cans out of used cartons, boxes and newspapers to ensure that the mandaps remained spic and span.

The group of 25 headstrong girls were not alone; they were aided by members of the puja committee and devotees. According to reports, Ranadeep Sarkar, the secretary of Nagaon Bengalo Sanimillan Puja Committee, said that using eco-friendly materials for the puja was mandatory and that devotees, committee members and the Green Police worked hand-in-hand to ensure that people could celebrate without harming the environment.

A water conservationist, Nripen Sarma, told The Times of India, “”The Green Police monitored the mandaps. Devotees and the puja committees also extended full cooperation to the Green Police. It was due to the untiring efforts of the girls that Nagaon Bengali Sanmilan was adjudged the most eco-friendly puja in Nagaon.”

This isn’t the first time that this all-girls brigade has actively sought to make their surroundings clean. On August 15, they were felicitated by the Nagaon district administration for increasing public awareness about hygiene practices. On June 5, World Environment Day, they also transformed a dirty road outside their school into a clean one by persuading people to use garbage cans and not indulge in irresponsible littering.

Aparna Bhattacharya, a teacher at the school, told The Times of India, “During Puja holidays, students take time off to enjoy. But my students have decided to do something positive. They are serious about their mission and I am really proud of them.”

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