I have the fondest memories of Ganesh Chaturthi, having grown up in a building where the festival is celebrated every year, for the past 30 years.
The mention of the word Ganapati brings with it fond memories of the evening aarti, modak and dancing on the way to the beach to say goodbye to Bappa. It also, unfortunately, brings back memories of being on a filthy beach the next day, and looking at the ecological mess that’s left behind.
Fortunately, now it’s possible to celebrate the festival without spoiling the environment around us, thanks to the introduction of the Eco Ganesha. For those that don’t know, an eco-friendly Ganesha is made of raw earth or plain clay which is not mixed with chemicals. It is just mud and water.
These, when immersed in water or left to nature, just get dissolved without releasing any toxic materials. This opposed to the traditionally used idols which are made up of Plaster of Paris, which unfortunately do not disintegrate easily and the idols float in water after immersion.
And half dissolved, broken and mangled idols are often washed on-shore.
To make matters worse, the chemical dyes and colours being used contain poisonous elements which affect marine life, and then us. Red, blue, orange and green colours contain chemicals like mercury, zinc oxide and lead, the potential causes of developing cancer.
We all need to step up and take responsibility for the world around us, especially since you can now have the best of the both worlds... It’s great that DNA has started the Eco Ganesha campaign. These are two words that I’m sure even the Elephant God will be happy to hear.
The Eco Ganesha is the first step, but there is a lot more we can do to take care of the world around us. Besides working with environmental organisations, there are some little things, I do on a daily basis like turning off lights and electrical devices when not needed. A lot of energy is used even when they are just on standby.
I use energy-efficient bulbs. Plastic bags are not bio-degradable even if they say they are, they do not decompose fully, so I avoid. And finally I’m conscious of saving water, when I can. These are little things but its the little things eventually add up.