Celebrating Ganesh Utsav is an age-old tradition, it is a festival celebrated to worship Lord Ganesh (elephant God). Lord Ganesh is the God of Wisdom and it is considered auspicious to start any new thing by chanting his name or offering him prayers. Ganesh chaturthi is the 1st day of Ganpati festival, on this day people buy the Idol of Lord Ganesh and they keep it for next 1 and half day, 5 days, 7 days or 10 days (varies from family to family). They do the puja twice a day and invite friends and family for the Prasad. This festival is manily celebrated in the state of Maharashtra and has become popular in Mumbai City. Every festival has its own spiritual significance and I totally believe in that but in this modern age everything has changed.
The house hold Ganesh utsav has gained a lot of popularity in past few years and every second house will have Ganpati idols on the day of Ganesh chaturthi. Now these idols are made from Plaster Of Paris (POP) and the decoration is basically made from Styrofoam, as they are cheap, easy to handle and easy to do any artistry work. They also put plastic flowers for decoration. The decoration is enhanced by putting electric lights everywhere. All this is immersed in any nearby water bodies on the last day of festival which leads to water pollution, killing the life in it.
The sarvajanik Ganpati utsav was started by Lokmanya Tilak but now it has taken a different shape. The cause of this is, the involvement of political parties in this utsav. For politicians it is just one of the way to promote their party, which they do in every festival. They build pendals and stalls in every gully (every gully pendal will be of some different political group) with big Ganesh idols (made from POP). Now these idols are big, ranging from 3 feet to 30 feet and sometimes even more, also they will set up music system with huge speakers that will increase your blood pressure and blow your mind. The more huge the idol and more the noise, the more crowd they can attract and hence, its is like a competition.
People visit each others house and the stalls for prasad and to get blessings of the god. But now people go to see the idol size, its beauty and the innovative decoration. They judge and discuss all this with others, so its more like a social gathering where you can gossip about who is better and how many places you visited.
So praying to God is a good thing but making it a social culture and a big market to sell these idols is certainly not a good thing. I am not against social gathering, it is good and healthy but when it is harmful for nature and promotes wrong things, then the trend should be set right.
So how to go Eco-friendly?
Here are some of the things we can do.
1. Don’t crowd the sarvajanik Ganpati stalls as you might be promoting pollution.
2. Buy Ganesh idol made from clay soil or shadu rather than the one made from POP, also see to it that the paint used are not harmful for environment.
3. Keep the idol size small. I am sure faith in God has nothing to do with the size of Idols. Also if the idol is small in size automatically the decoration would be reduced as well as the cost.
4. Keep the decoration simple. Maybe few real flower, a bowl of home-made sweets and fruits.
5. Go for oil and ghee lamps (burning of ghee releases O3 which is good for environment), See that the lamps are made from metal (metal lamps are reusable) or clay.
6. Put fresh and real flower garland every day, rather than plastic garland and disposable one.
7. If you are a creative person then you can make your own Ganesh idol using Eco-friendly material.
8. Immerse the idol in Artificial lake if the idol is made up of POP.
We fail to take such small and simple steps and the reason is that we don’t celebrate this festival for our faith in God, but we rather celebrate this as a modern-day social culture. The seriousness to become more Eco-friendly will be realized only when we will try to see the kind of damage it is doing to the environment. Change the way you think, give importance to the environment, love all the people, be kind to animals and have faith in God.
Go green, go Sustainable this Ganesh Utsav. You will definitely get all the blessings of Lord Ganesh for this good step. Love you people, stay humble stay blessed.