Celebrating Eco-friendly Ganesh Chaturthi
August 2017

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A home-baker in Mumbai made a Ganesh Idol from chocolate, weighing around thirty five kilograms. She immersed this idol in milk and later distributed the resultant chocolate milk as 'Prasad' to the underprivileged children. Here's an enlightened devotee, who is religious, cares for the environment as well as the society. An inspiration for all of us to celebrate eco-friendly Ganesh festival.

Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most awaited and celebrated festivals of India. Every year, birthday of the elephant-headed God is celebrated with much zeal and fervor. People buy Ganesh idols of different shapes and sizes and install them in their homes or community spaces. This is followed by lots of cultural activities like singing, dancing, theater, etc. for the next few days. And finally, on the last day, Ganesh idol is taken through the streets in a procession and immersed in a river, the ritual known as Ganesh Visarjan. This highly spiritual and religious ritual can sometimes have an adverse impact on the environment, if the idol is made of chemicals or other hazardous materials. To avoid this, let's celebrate this Ganesh Chaturthi in an eco-friendly way.

  • Buy a metal or stone idol and symbolically immerse it at home in a bucket. A betel nut can also me immersed in a bucket instead of the idol. Sprinkling a small amount of water on the idol is an acceptable ritual too. Later, wipe the water and reuse the same idol next year.
  • Buy or make Ganesh idols made from natural products like unbaked clay or other biodegradable materials and painted with natural colours. Do not buy idols made from plaster of Paris, plastic, thermocol, etc. as they pollute the rivers and lakes upon immersion.
  • Keep the size of the idol reasonable. If installed in a public place, it should not be more than five feet. Huge idols add waste to the environment, are difficult to immerse and cause traffic congestion.
  • To make rangoli, make use of natural colours like turmeric, henna, rice powder, etc. For decorations use cloth, wood and paper, as all these materials are biodegradable.
  • Instead of individual celebration, go in for community celebration as more pandals lead to more noise pollution. It will bring down cost of the celebration too. To curb noise pollution further, avoid playing loud music and say no to firecrackers. The latter leads to air pollution and can cause health problems.
  • Make a compost pit in your community for the offerings of flowers, garlands etc. Produce fertilizer and use it for gardening. Alternately, collect the flowers and dry them to make natural colours.
  • Ban the use of plastic in the pandals. Serve food in banana leaves, use cloth bags to carry prasad and other offerings.
  • Replace energy consuming fairy lights with compact fluorescent lights (CFL) as they save electricity and also your money. A good idea to have a dramatic effect in the pandal is to wrap CFLs with coloured transparent paper.

Ganesha is considered to be the Lord of wisdom. It's high time all of us become wise and celebrate this auspicious festival in an eco-friendly, sensible way. A bit of eco-consciousness at present will ensure that our future generations are able to enjoy and celebrate this blissful and joyful festival in the same way as we do.