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  • Chandana Banerjee

G is for a Green Ganesh Chaturthi – 10 ways to celebrate without polluting your city

When I was in school, our house was right across a #Ganapati temple. Every year, as September rolled in, our locality was abuzz with preparations for #GaneshChaturthi and I’d be neck deep studying for my half-yearly exams. With the loud speakers blaring out Bollywood numbers, and local bands revving up the noise levels even further with their instrumental renditions of the songs, #Ganesh Chaturthi to me looked more like a test of my concentration, and less like the vibrant, joyful festival that it’s meant to be. These days, festivals look more like anti-Earth events, where we humans want to have fun at the cost of the environment.

Ganpati Bappa Morya - Pic credit: Inkhabar

Every year, as the beloved, rotund-bellied & elephant-headed Ganesha makes his way to pandals, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with fervor and fiesta across Maharastra and other states. However, as the festival progresses, it leaves behind gigantic carbon footprints of all kinds of pollution in its wake.

From deafening noise levels created by blaring music to thermocol decorations that end up in landfills to Prasad & snacks served in disposable Styrofoam plates to huge amounts of #Nirmalaya (flowers & leaves used during the prayers) dumped in water bodies, pollution is the thumbprint of celebration. And there’s even more colossal pollution, when tonnes of Plaster of Paris idols are submerged in the oceans, lakes, rivers and ponds at the end of the festival.


PoP Ganesh idols, Nirmalya & plastic dumped into water bodies (Pic credit: Patrika)

Here’s a quick look at the pollution caused during the Ganesh Chaturthi:

Air Pollution: This is caused by fireworks and crackers + increased vehicular traffic that release Cadmium, Barium, Sodium, Nitrate, Mercury and Nitrite into the atmosphere. The levels of RSPM – Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter goes up during this month.

Water Pollution: Caused by immersion of Plaster of Paris idols into water bodies + dunking of non-biodegradable & degradable decorations in water. The idols are painted with toxic colors which leach lead and mercury into the water.

Noise Pollution: With loud speakers blaring out music and professional music systems belting out numbers, the noise level goes way beyond the permissible 55 dB during the day and 45 dB during the night.

Land Pollution: Think of all the snacks and Prasad served in Styrofoam plates and plastic bags. Also add in the plastic bags used during the shopping spree that any festival triggers off. All of these will end up in landfills and street corners, leaching toxins into the ground.

As bleak as this looks, each one of us can bring home Lord Ganesha in a green way. Ganesha is the remover of obstacles, not the creator of them. So, why should we create tonnes of eco obstacles, while praying to him?


Clay Ganesha

Here are some simple, green ways to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi the green way:

1. Bring home a clay Ganesh idol, instead of a Plaster of Paris one. If you live in a society that puts up a pandal, ask them to forgo the PoP idol this year. From handmade clay idols to clay idols that have seeds in them, you can choose a Ganesha idol that’s eco-friendly and beautiful. 2. Use natural materials to decorate the pandal, instead of grabbing thermocol decorations from the market. 3. Offer Prasad and snacks in Areca nut leaf plates and bowls, instead of Styrofoam plates and plastic packets. 4. Take along your own cloth bags from home for shopping during the festival, and do buy mindfully. In our materialistic world, we often forget that less is more. 5. Let your festival music be mellow instead of belting out numbers on loud speakers and DJ sets. Devotion is no way related to decibel levels. 6. Compost the Nirmalaya (flowers, leaves & pooja material) in a home or community compost pit, or if you like, bring home a pooja composter (check out www.dailydump.org). 7. Say no to firecrackers this festival season and find more mindful & less polluting ways to express your joy. 8. Let your rangolis be made of natural material instead of toxic powders. 9. Immerse your idol in the tanks created by the Municipality or symbolically immerse your Ganesh idol in a bucket of water, instead of immersing them in natural water bodies. 10. Save energy by using fewer decorative lights and switching them off at night. If you can, install a few portable solar lights to light up your pandal.

How are you celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi with a dash of green? Let us know by posting your comments below.

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Warm regards, Chandana #clayganesha #ecofriendlyganeshfestival #greenganeshchaturthi #greenfestivalseason #clayidols #greenimmersion