Ganesha is considered to be the Lord of wisdom & every year the festival of Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated with great enthusiasm. To celebrate the Ganesh Chaturthi without harming the environment, start with buying the eco friendly Ganesha / Vinayaka idols!
Courtesy - flickr
The celebrations have caused severe threats to our environment & water bodies. But the most dangerous impact of the Ganesha festival on the environment is due to the immersion of idols. People are unaware of the damages caused by the use of Ganesh / Vinayaka idols made of Plaster of Paris (P.O.P) & the chemical paints used on them for decorative purposes.
The material used for idols like plaster of Paris (POP) is mainly the compound of gypsum, phosphorus, sulphur & magnesium. Chemical paints comprise of mercury, cadmium, lead & carbon, which are more dangerous, particularly cheap one!
When immersion of Idols takes place, people mindlessly dump thermocol, plastic flowers & garlands and other decorations which does constitute bio-degradable waste & it causes water pollution. Immersion of idols with such poisonous & toxic elements raises the level of acidity, solid matter, organic matter & heavy metals in water bodies, resulting in breathing problems & harming marine life apart from pollution of ground water & damages to riparian right of people downstream for whom river water does not remain worthy for use!
This calls for the responsible behaviour in each & every citizen by adopting suitable measures to protect the environment & water resources. Here are some ways to celebrate eco-friendly Ganesha / Vinayaka festival.
Use Natural Clay Ganesha Idols:
For celebrating eco friendly Ganesha / Vinayaka festival, it is best to use the Ganesha / Vinayaka idols made of natural clay which will ultimately protect the environment. You can paint it with turmeric, red sandalwood & Multani soil. It can easily dissolve in a bucket of water & this can be further used to water your plants. Avoid buying Ganesha / Vinayaka statues made of Plaster of Paris, which is highly toxic.
Courtesy - flickr
Use Traditional Earthen Lamps:
To protect the environment, you can use earthen lamps to light up your homes during Ganesh Chaturthi, instead of using artificial lights.
Use Natural Colours for Rangolis:
To draw the colourful rangoli patterns for celebrating eco friendly Ganesha / Vinayaka festival, one can use natural & bio degradable colours like henna, rice powder, turmeric, sandalwood powder, gulal, flowers and avoid using chemical based colours that will eventually protect the environment!
Eco friendly Ganesha/Vinayaka Decorations:
In festivals, people usually use plastic & non-degradable material. These materials add more danger to our environment when dumped as garbage later. Therefore to celebrate this Ganesh Chaturthi in a eco friendly way, you can use paper flowers or natural flowers for decoration. Fresh flowers like jasmine, marigold & even rose petals can be utilised.
Courtesy - flickr
Torans or door hangings can be made from mango leaves to decorate the doorway.
Courtesy - flickr
To protect the environment make an effort to use natural materials like wood, cloth, paper that can be used for decoration around Ganesha / Vinayaka idol. You can also use newspaper decoration instead of thermocol, which is also not degradable!
Avoid Using Plastics:
It becomes very common to use plastics to carry offerings & offer them along with Ganesha / Vinayaka during immersion. Plastics are an environmental hazard which does not dissolve in water & keep accumulating in water bodies causing obstruction & stagnation to the water flow & also do not degrade biologically. The use of cloth, paper, wood & other natural materials is safer while immersion as they are bio-degradable in nature. Instead of using polythene bags, newspaper or paper bags shall be used! While immersion of idols, try not to throw flowers, garlands & other decorations with it. It can be rather collected & disposed of in a garden!
Therefore to celebrate eco friendly Ganesha / Vinayaka festival, it is best to use the banana leaves, paper or newspaper bags for distributing Prasad, other food offerings & gifts, etc.
Create Compost Pit:
After the celebrations collect all the flowers, garlands, banana leaves, paper & another bio degradable waste & put them in a compost pit. This can be used to fertilise plants & trees in your garden!
Celebrating eco friendly Ganesha / Vinayaka festival is not about how big your idol is or how expensive your decoration is! It is not about a display of wealth or showing off. Rather, it is about the religious sentiments, emotions & feelings in your heart. Therefore, all the devotees of Lord Ganesha / Vinayaka can continue celebrating the festival, but at the same time, they should take care not to affect the environment adversely. They should also take the safety precautions to avoid the freak accidents during the processions or at the seashore & try to minimise the use of loudspeakers because it also causes the noise pollution.
Remember, we have not inherited this earth from our elders, our future generation has lent us & we have to hand over to them safely!