Before long the Elephant Headed One will be in our midst — September 1 to be precise. And while Ganesha’s coming is auspicious, whether on the Hindu calendar or as a festival, His likeness is becoming a growing cause for concern amongst environmentalists.
The reason? The colours and materials used in making the deities, which in their non-eco friendly avatars present an ever-increasing hazard to the environment.
The Central Pollution Control Board has issued guidelines that are being followed by many states. The latest to take up the cause being the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board, which in enthusiasm has involved nearly 150 schools and colleges in a mass awareness drive for eco-friendliness, cite reports.
In Mumbai, apart from initiatives by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, the BMC, NGO’s and the like, Bollywood is also driving this mood home, using star power to try and promote awareness. Actors like Amrita Rao and Salman Khan have been vocal in their support for eco-friendly materials for deities.
Advocating clay and eco-friendly colours as opposed to Plaster of Paris (which, say experts, can take up to two years to dissolve fully in water) is what many who are concerned are highlighting and it’s about time, really.
Already the environment is sagging under the weight of ever increasing pollutants. Recent reports speak of a chemical weather forecasting facility which will forecast air pollution levels up to two days in advance. But one doesn’t need fancy equipment, one only has to look at the smog settled over the city early morning to try and grasp at the extent of the problem.
Doctors warn of increasing bronchial related ailments and asthma because of pollution, even as the BMC’s annual analysis of the air quality shows a steadily worsening picture each year, with rising levels of heavy metal (iron, lead, copper) in the air we breathe. Meanwhile, we continue to be our own worst enemies in ignoring the wakeup call around us, be it for contamination of the air or our water bodies.
Some Sarvajanik Mandals, practising self regulation, have decided to go completely green this year but there are many who are not yet comfortable with the idea of clay. Already oil spills have wrecked havoc with our marine life and wetlands, do we need to add to the toxicity with lead and zinc based painted idols?
Isn’t it time we plug the loopholes, do what we can to conserve what we have left — Ganesha, who’s head is an elephant’s, who’s stead is a mouse, cannot show more how he’s one with the environment. Are we, though welcoming him annually, really there yet?