Considering my lack of any religious inclinations whatsoever, I can't remember the last time I was excited about a festival like Ganesh Chaturthi. But I guess that's what happens when the world comes to a sudden, jerky stop, and the list of things one can look forward to, narrows down considerably. You have to find your own small reasons to be happy. And coming together with the people I care about to celebrate a vibrant, joyous festival, definitely qualifies as one.
Spanning a total of 10 days, the auspicious epoch of Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated widely across the country, and often with over the top frills and unrestrained enthusiasm. From submerging thermocol-heavy idols in water bodies, to splashing rangoli colours made of materials like mica and littering all surrounding areas with cast-off garlands and decoration items, some bits of our jolly revelry tends to morph into adverse consequences for the environment. Don't get me wrong, in no way do I mean to imply that you stop the celebrations altogether. What we are asking you to do instead, is accord just as much importance to your responsibilities towards the planet, as you would to enjoying the festival thoroughly. And to help you do that, we've curated a list of 15 tips to celebrate an eco-friendly Ganesh Chaturthi, none of which will take away from your grand festivities.
1. First and foremost, everything in 2020 is going to be different from what you've been used to so far in life, and the same applies to celebrations and festivals. It's easy to get caught up in the joyous occasion, assemble at one place with a large number of people and make merry. But please bear in mind that there's still a pandemic sweeping across the world, and India is nowhere close to logging its last case. Avoid leaving the house, and limit the festival gatherings to immediate family, or friends you share the house with.
Image Courtesy - Pexels
2. When picking your idol for the festival, go for ones made of eco-friendly materials like natural clay, and those coloured with organic extracts like turmeric or multani-mitti. Avoid idols made of plastic, thermocol, POP and other non-biodegradable materials. You can also go the extra mile by choosing a planter Ganesha idol, which comprises of red-soil, natural fertiliser and Tulsi seeds.
3. Opt for a miniature idol, and a small artificial water tank for the Visarjan ritual. That way you get to participate in what is usually the favourite part of the festival for most people, without causing any water pollution. Symbolic immersion like submerging a beetle nut in a bucket of water is even better!
4. Use organic colours like turmeric and gulaal instead of chemical Rangoli colours. You can also use flowers like marigold, rose or jasmine to beautify your rangoli design.
5. Be mindful about the number of decorative items you purchase to put up around the house, whether they're flower garlands or thermocol amulets. In the former case of biodegradable adornments put the discarded waste to good use, such as by using them as fertiliser for your plants. Avoid the latter as much as you can.
Image Courtesy - Freepik
6. Swap all plastic bags, cutlery and containers with those made of paper or wood. For instance, if you usually serve the prasad on plates made of styrofoam, go with paper plates this year instead. The more plastic you avoid, the better it is for the planet.
7. If you live in a society or a colony, put out two big trash-bins everybody can discard their waste in, one for recyclable materials and the other for biodegradable waste. The second bin can be later used as a community compost pit for fertilising plants in nearby gardens or parks.
8. For the love of God (literally) don't burn crackers, guys. Trust me, as a dog owner, I am familiar with the plight of animals when there are fire-crackers going out every couple of minutes. And even if you aren't particularly a lover of animals, just think about the massive hike in pollution levels usually followed by festivals like Diwali.
9. Reduce your energy consumption. The desire to beautifully light up your house on an auspicious festival like Ganesh Chaturthi is understandable to an extent. But do you really need 5 strings of LED lights? Especially when there are more eco-friendly options out there like earthen diyas. Switch off lights, and be reasonable with the amount of electricity you use.
10. Last but not the least, a festival is not an excuse to create ruckus, and be loud enough to wake the dead. I know we're all bored out of our skulls and we need some excitement in our lives, but that shouldn't come at the cost of someone else's peace or the environment's sound pollution levels. Keep it low, keep it classy, please.
Happy Ganesh Chaturthi!