The fourth day of the waxing moon according to the Hindu month of Bhadrapada is celebrated as Ganesh Chaturthi. The festival is a greatest of its kind, as it brings together people of all religious communities together. The insurrection of the Ganesh idol at homes is the customary practice. The celebrations reach culmination with the immersion of the idol in water. Nevertheless, slowly the rising of community idols has come into practice. Due to the same, the hidden meaning for the immersion and dissolution of the idol in water represents the ‘succession of creation and dissolution in nature’.
In fact clay was used to make Ganesh idols for many years. Nevertheless, over a period of time with the advent of Plaster of Paris (POP), the cheaper material with multipurpose uses, the carving of idols started using this material. It could have been Okay, if there was no ritual procedure of immersion of the idols in water. However, the main problems lies in the immersion of huge idols in water, for POP contains various toxicant chemicals such as gypsum, sulphur, phosphorus, and magnesium. Also, the dyes used to colour these idols contain similar poisonous chemicals. Such ritual procedure of the immersion of idols involving the non-biodegradable or toxic materials has many ecological ramifications.
Yes, truly there is a problem. But what’s the solution? Here are the ways to reduce the environmental smash up from Ganesh celebrations:
- Just prefer to use Ganesh idols made of easily dissolvable natural clay, natural fibre, recycled paper, or any such similar things.
- As far as possible, avoid synthetic paints and prefer organic colours to paint the idols.
- Use biodegradable material for decorative purposes that need to be mandatorily immersed in water along with the idol.
- Prefer to immerse the idol in a specially earmarked huge tub. Later, the dissolvent along with the water can be used in the personal gardens, thereby achieving the most.
- At some places people use a metal or stone idol. They allegorically immerse this in a bucket of water, or even carry it in procession to the sea, hold it under the water, and then bring it back home. It’s rather a good practice indeed. The same can be promoted by the mass media channels to bring awareness among the masses.
- Have concern for the lakes and ponds; and as far as possible avoid immersion in the major water banks since they lead to smudging of mud, which ultimately leads to a drop down in storage capacity.
- Last but not least to mention here is avoiding using loud speakers which cause disturbance to the people at work.