While we all enjoy celebrating festivals, doing so in a responsible manner is the way for a sustainable future.
According to Toxics Link, a non-profit focused on pollution, approximately 1,00,000 murthis are immersed in India’s water bodies each year.
Given the precarious situation of our country’s water bodies, and the rise in pollution levels in the rivers, many states are now evolving ways to ensure eco-friendly immersions.
If you are looking to adorn your home this festive season, why not get this beautiful handcrafted brass dancing Ganesh lamp from here.
Along side such policy moves, there are enough examples of communities who have taken it upon themselves to ensure that they celebrate their festivals with devotion, and in a sustainable fashion.
Residents of DSR Woodwinds, an apartment complex in Bengaluru, did just that this Ganesh Chaturthi.
We, at The Better India, spoke to Dr Simi Sugathan, Public Health Scientist, Safety Monitor. Dr Sugathan is one of the residents who has been an active member of bringing about this change.
Here’s what they did
“The intent with which we started off was to ensure that as a community we celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi with zero waste. One of the ways of doing that was to ensure that we make our own murthis, which were 100 per cent eco-friendly and non-toxic,” says Dr Sugathan.
With the help of Bijal Kinchit Shah, an IT consultant by profession but a craft enthusiast at heart, almost 75 children between the age group of 4 to 15, got to make their own little murthis over the course of two days.
What’s even more interesting is how these idols will now also help grow methi.
When Bijal was asked why she chose to adopt this method of celebrating the festival, she said, “I came across a video on Facebook where they urged people to adopt environmentally friendly ways of worship and celebrations.”
“The video left a lasting impact on me and that is when I decided to use my craft skills to conduct a tree Ganesha workshop.”
“The idols that the children have made are all placed on individual tray pots. Each pot has some methi seeds in them and with water that the plant will get every day, within three weeks we will have methi fit for consumption.” Dr Sugathan says.
This was done last year as well and Dr Sugathan mentioned that the campaigning this year had far-reaching impact.
“Besides putting up posters everywhere detailing the need to prioritise the environment, we also encouraged residents to do away with plastic and other toxic material decorations.”
“We did not use any cloth decorations; we ensured that we stitched our own and completely stayed away from wasting paper as well,” she says.
A few things you can follow:
- Ensure that you and your family only get an environmentally friendly idol. Opt for natural, biodegradable material so that after immersions it does not pollute any water body. Encourage the use of natural products such as unbaked clay, coconut, etc.
- Try and find ways of celebrating in a larger group, reducing the number of idols being used. Festivals are after all best celebrated as a community.
- Save on energy by ensuring that you do not use too many light-based decorations. Get the children to be creative and find ways of decorating the idol without wasting paper or any other resource.
- While distributing prasad or food after the puja ensure that you do so in biodegradable cutlery or even better would be to get steel plates and cups from homes.
- Remember to resuse if you get the chance. If you have decorations lying around from last year do use those. With many festivals coming up now you can most certainly reuse it all.
- While celebrations are great, do not play loud music and create unnecessary noise pollution.
While this is one building with 250 homes in a large city adopting such measures, the hope is that this inspires many others from different parts of the country to follow suit.
Let this Ganesh Chathurthi, which is a day for new beginnings, be the dawn for many such initiatives across our country.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)