Go Green Ganesha.

Team SBITS moves towards “GO GREEN GANESHA” this year.

Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated all over India and it is on 13 September 2018. The festival starts and ends a with great pomp and fun as India then gears up for Ganesh Visarjan. The festival is celebrated for a period of days and and the Ganesh idols will be immersed into rivers or lakes.

With the passion of celebrating this festival, we generally forget the hazardous impact of the immersion of idols on environment. The idol of Ganesh is generally made up of  Plaster of Paris (POP), plastic and cement. Toxic paints are also used in decorating the idol. After the immersion, the ingredients of the statue does not completely dissolve in water which then leads to environmental pollution.

We at SBITS plan to bring an awareness among our team and through our neighbourhood about the impact and shared information on how this festival can be celebrated in a manner that does not adversely impact our environment. The word eco friendly describes materials, products and processes that are completely harmless to ecosystems, so they do not damage or break natural and living systems.

Sheetal Sangole, co-founder of Pestom Sagar Citizen’s Forum, Chembur added, “There are a range of choices that bring you closer to a completely natural and eco friendly lifestyle.The size of your idol, the material it is made of, the paints it uses, whether you celebrate alone or together, the way you immerse the idol and most importantly your inner intention and prayer, is what defines whether your celebration is truly eco friendly or not. When deciding how you are going to celebrate consider the idols you use, decorations you use and the manner in which you dispose off these two after the festival.”

Originally, the tradition was to bring a little bit of soil from the banks of the river and mould the idols from this soil. The worship was of the soil initially. After the worship ritual is over this soil was returned to the source where it came from.It is believed that the soil carried the prayers and blessings from the worship downstream to other villages and communities. In this way of celebrating absolutely no polluting impact results from the celebration.

Today there is a choice of an idol made of any biodegradable material – clay, paper, cow dung, soil, one can also choose to keep a permanent idol, which you use year after year. Alongside this you can keep a miniature idol for ‘visarjan’ (immersion) and only immerse that. In some families they place a betel nut and tobacco leaf next to the idol and immerse those.

According to Sheetal Sangole, also co-founder of Pestom Sagar Citizen’s Forum, Chembur , says, “It is very important that the paints of  your idols are painted which are not chemical in any form – even water-soluble water colours also contain high levels of lead and mercury.

“You can choose natural pigments made of vegetables such as spinach and beetroot, earths such as multani mitti, geroo and herbs such as turmeric to make sure the paints are truly natural.

Paints that profess to be non-toxic or eco friendly have to be studied to understand what they are made of before you use them.”People should also be aware that currently, water resources are very precious as they are depleting and are being polluted by so many causes.

Thus, to prevent any water pollution through the Ganesh celebration activists recommend that people do a home immersion in a bucket of water and pour the water into the soil. This will allow the materials of the idol to break down in the soil and prevent water pollution.“The ultimate aim of immersion is for us to return what we took from the earth back into the earth.

“This can happen through the soil as well as your blessings and prayers will merge with the soil,” says Sheetal Sangole, “In the materials you use and the manner in which you choose to celebrate keep a conscious awareness of what impact it has on the planet. None of these materials we use or immerse should in any way bring harm to life – be it fish in the lakes and rivers, or animals that may eat the plastic bags we throw.”

It is indeed possible this year to celebrate a clean and green Ganeshotsav keeping the earth safe and sound.