Ganesha Goes Green

There is a revolution happening in India, a slow and steady one, but one that is sure to succeed. Indians no longer want to be complacent and accept what they are doled out. Be it a Lokpal Bill or banning plastic bags, Indians are taking a stand and they are taking the right one too. Take Ganesh Chaturthi, which is just around the corner. When Bal Gangadhar Tilak introduced the idea of mass celebrations for Ganesh Chaturthi, he surely didn’t envision such pomp, and ostentatiousness. He definitely did not intend it to be a mere spectacle or to make Ganesha as popular exhibits. He introduced it to show the solidarity of Indians before the British. Simple clay statues were used and people came out in the open to celebrate it together. The festival brought unity among the people. Society stayed healthy and so did environment.

Somewhere down the line, the original idea was forgotten. Ganesh began to grow taller year after year and took many different avatars. Plaster of Paris (PoP) substituted clay idols, as they were lighter and cheaper. Moulds were used to make rather than old-fashioned hand modelling. Gaudy paints were used on these idols to make them colourful. The result: serious environmental pollution. PoP takes years to dissolve. Added to it are toxic paints that contain mercury and lead which do not dissolve. Close to two lakhs Ganesh idols were immersed in Mumbai alone last year. Imagine its impact in the water surrounding Mumbai. And, what about the rest of India? How many fishes and plants die due to mercury and lead poisoning? How many fishermen suffer because of that?

According to scriptures, the appropriate height of a Ganesh idol for mass worship should be no more than five feet. Anything more will not be ideal for ritualistic worship. These days however, one sees Ganesh going up to 10 feet, 20 feet and 30 feet high. When such tall idols are made, obviously clay is not sufficient. Therefore, iron rods and bamboos are used for support. Rules demand the idols to be immersed in the middle of the ocean. But, we know what the reality is. Most Ganesh are made to float horizontally and left to find its own end. If they don’t sink, then they are taken out and run over by a bulldozer. So much for piety!

However, things are turning around. People are waking up to the ill effects of PoP and toxic paints. And, thankfully this is an issue that can be corrected if all of us take an oath to buy only clay idols. Even paper mache is a good substitute as it is ecologically safe. In many cities like Bangalore and Mumbai, free clay idols are being distributed just to encourage a green Ganesh Chaturthi. The government too should ban the use of PoP strictly and impose fine on those who refuse to abide by the rules.

If you want to take your green celebrations a notch higher, you can choose to buy Ganesh Chaturthi gifts and even idols online. Tajonline.com has some great deals going on for the festival. Shop through pennyful.in and get rebates using online coupons and cashback up to 5% off.

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