Isn’t it ironic that the very traditional 10-day festival of Ganesh Chaturthi which fills devotees with such joy, is celebrated with very non-traditional means like thermocol, plastic decorations and idols made of Plaster of Paris. Not only are these deviations from the original forms, but they are also harmful to the environment.
Traditionally, the idols were made of clay, and sometimes even at home. In current times, chemical paints and materials are used which go against the spirit of the festival and harm everyone who comes in contact with it.
Despite what the market may have convinced you, it is easy and completely feasible to celebrate this festival with traditional forms that do not harm anyone – especially the environment.
Here are some ways we can enjoy a #GreenGaneshChaturthi!
Let not your festivities pollute the environment. From the idols you worship to the incense sticks you light, choose everything eco-friendly. Check out our shop to purchase incense sticks made of upcycled flowers!
1. A clay idol
Eco-friendly, easily biodegradable and perhaps more beautiful than any painted idol you will get in the market, a clay model will certainly bring a traditional charm to your celebrations this year. If you prefer small private celebrations, this small clay idol is perfect for you. You can have a quaint decorated corner to place the idol for ten days.
When the festival comes to an end, just immerse the idol right in your backyard. But if you wish to immerse it in a water body, you can do so guilt-free. These clay idols have no paint on them, so you won’t be polluting rivers or lakes!
Even better than immersing eco-friendly Ganeshas in rivers is planting them and receiving His blessings all year long! We have been following a similar practice in our home for the past six years. We immerse the idol in a bucket placed in our garden. When the idol dissolves completely, we add it to our plants. This year though, we plan on taking the initiative a notch higher with plantable Ganeshas.
3. Celebrate with the idol you already have
Who says that the Ganesha festival can only be celebrated with new idols? This year, why not celebrate with the Ganesha idol in your home temple? It doesn’t matter what the idol is made of or how big it is. What matters is that we have a wholesome celebration around it.
If you are worried about the immersion, here’s a tip. Place a bucket in your balcony or garden and perform the immersion there. All the rituals you follow every year can be carried out this way. The only difference is that you take out the idol after a few hours and keep it back in the temple as always. (Flowers can be upcycled into a variety of things. Don’t believe us? Check out a range of ideas from our shop!)
4. Cowdung idol
How often have we been told that cow-dung is the eco-friendliest fertiliser for plants? Whether to make a bed for a vermicompost kit or to boost the growth of our gardens, cow dung is always a favourable option. And now Eco-Exist is also making Ganesha idols with it.
Over 2 lakh Ganesha idols are immersed in Mumbai alone every year. And if you, in your capacity, can stop the pollution of your closest water body, shouldn’t you take the opportunity? These cow dung idols are perfect for immersion or to help with the growth of your garden.
5. Make your own idol
The festival was conceived as a way to bring people together and to encourage community involvement. Taking this message forward, perhaps we can start making our own idols. Upcycling old products to make Ganesha idols is a good way to begin. That way, instead of immersing it, you can keep it in a showcase for the entire year. Or you can experiment with the craft of sculpting. Get creative with the material, form and the size of the idol. It is all in your hands!
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)