It’s the time of year when Hindus in India and abroad shop for Ganesha idols to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi. The festival celebrates the advent or birthday of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity of wisdom and prosperity. On this occasion, Ganesha idols are installed in homes or on pandals (makeshift stages) across India. While Ganesh Chaturthi is an occasion for great rejoicing and festive cheer, it takes a toll on the environment.
People use a lot of flowers, plastic materials, and many other non-biodegradable things that are left behind polluting the water bodies and our environs, once the festival concludes with the immersion of the Ganesha idols on the last day of Ganesh Chaturthi. This ritual is meant as a send-off to Lord Ganesha, when he returns to Mount Kailas after celebrating his birthday on earth among mortals like us. During the preceding days, many events and Poojas are held to celebrate the festival. Pandals are erected, and plays are performed. Music and dance, too, are traditionally part of the festivities.
Of course, due to the pandemic, the celebrations will be rather low-key this year too. Still, some amount of waste will be generated during the festival, which may end up polluting the earth, which is already polluted considerably. But we can avoid this to some extent and celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi in an eco-friendly fashion.
So, here are some ideas to celebrate the festival in a sustainable manner without damaging the environment.
How does Ganesha Idols damage environment?
Usually, most Ganesha idols are made of thermocol, plastic, and Plaster of Paris. These are non-biodegradable, and after Visarjan or immersion, float on the water for months choking the water bodies and causing harm to the aquatic ecosystem. Also, the idols are often painted and the paints contain lead and mercury which is very harmful to the flora and fauna inhabiting the water bodies. Many studies have shown that there is a significant increase in heavy metals in water bodies after the festival. Besides, the oxygen content also went down and water became more acidic.
Eco-friendly Ganesha idols are made of natural mud and clay, and are painted with natural, plant-based colors. Hence, during immersion in water bodies, they dissolve without releasing toxic substances.
Five Eco-friendly Options for Ganesha Idols
Clay Ganesha Idols
Clay Ganesha idols are very eco-friendly. They are made of natural mud and plain clay and no chemicals are present in them. It is only mud and water. When you immerse them in water, they simply dissolve and no toxic materials are released. This ensures that the environment is not harmed in any way due to the immersion of the Ganesha idols. You can buy clay Ganeshas online from astroved.com.
Seed Ganesha Idols
The seed Ganesha idol is one of the latest trends. They are made of natural clay, seeds, and organic fertilizer. They can also be made using paper pulp and seeds. You don’t need to dispose of these idols in a water body. Just keep it in a pot with soil when the festival ends. The idol begins to dissolve when you water it. After a while, the seeds take root in the soil. These idols are called plantable Ganesha idols. So you can say that Ganesha does not leave you even after Ganesh Chaturthi ends, and comes back as a plant to add some color and greenery to your home. You can buy these eco-friendly Ganeshas online.
Paper Pulp Ganesha Idols
These Ganesha idols are made using paper pulp. The pulp is made by crushing books and old newspapers. No toxic paints or other toxic substances are used for decorating these idols.
Charcoal & Clay Ganesha Idols
These eco-friendly Ganesha idols are made using activated charcoal and pure clay. This combination preserves and cleans the water bodies like ponds, lakes, rivers, sea, etc., when the idol is immersed in water.
DIY Home-Made Ganesha Idols
If you are a hands-on sort of person, you can also make an eco-friendly Ganesha idol yourself at home. To do so, you need some natural clay, which is easily available online. In addition to clay, you can also get natural water-based colors. Some of them may be found in your home itself – like Multani Matti, Turmeric or Haldi, Kumkum etc.
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Ganpati Making kits are also available. These come with natural clay, seeds and a mold. Such kits will be a fun activity for kids and help you create your own eco-friendly Ganesha idol. A home visarjan can be done in a pot half filled with water and some soil. Within a few days, you will have a new plant.
Ganesh Chaturthi 2021 is on September 10, this year. If you celebrate it with an eco-friendly Ganesha idol, we can assure you that Lord Ganesha will bless you all the more for showing some compassion and concern for Mother Earth!