Ganesha Festival is celebrated with fun and fervor throughout India, irrespective of caste, creed and religion. The main attraction of Ganesh Chaturthi is the beautifully decorated Ganesha idols or Murtis that come in different models and sizes. After 10 days of celebration, Ganesha idols are immersed in water bodies such as lake, river or sea.
WHY ECO FRIENDLY GANESHA FESTIVAL?
With growing concerns of environmental protection and its effects on our lives, we must understand the need to go green with our celebrations.
1. IMPACT OF POP IDOLS ON ENVIRONMENT: Plaster of Paris is derived by heating gypsum or calcium sulphate dihydrate at 140-180 degree Celsius. The chemicals used to paint these POP idols include lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic which are highly toxic in nature. When POP idols are immersed in water, the acidic content of water increases which in turn adversely affect marine life. The water gets extremely polluted. Also the insoluble gypsum powder takes several months for degradation.
Hazard: BBMP workers removing idols that were immersed in Sankey tank in Bangalore on Friday. The water quality in the city’s lakes has dropped to class D (worst condition) from class C (bad condition). Source: The Hindu dated September 21, 2013
2. IMPACT OF POP IDOLS ON HEALTH: Water bodies polluted by heavy metal deposits from POP idols affect our health considerably. Also the consumption of sea food from such polluted water bodies pose serious health hazards such as kidney damage, nervous system failure and skin allergies. Researches show that Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) which causes air pollution rises manifold after Ganesha celebration.
3. IMPACT ON RELIGIOUS SENTIMENTS: As POP idols and decorations do not dissolve in water, the city municipal corporation is forced to crush them into pieces using a bulldozer. This amounts to dishonor to the deity worshiped.
HOW TO CELEBRATE ECO-FRIENDLY GANESHA FESTIVAL?
Here are a few tips for eco-friendly Gowri Ganesha Chaturthi:
• Purchase idols made out of clay and natural dyes. This will dissolve in water within a few minutes or an hour depending on the size of the idol. The water can then be used for gardening
• Use biodegradable decoration materials made out of paper, cloth and natural fiber instead of thermocol and plastics
• Recycle flowers and pooja offerings by placing them in a compost pit for gardening purpose
Let the festival of the first God Ganesha be the right time to start living a life with sensitivity and responsibility to nature's creations at large.