As a kid I was much piqued by the rolly polly cute God who got pampered by delicacies and the choicest of laddoos and modaks! He was the reason for smiling faces, family reunions, mouth wateringpreparations in the kitchen… and the best part was the family collectively gathering for the aarti, which leftsuch an amazing feeling! But the part that I dreaded the most would also arrive — Ganesh visarjan.
My strongest memory of the visarjan dates back to the time I was in class 4. The year before I had a bad dream on the night after the visarjan. I had dreamt thatmy Ganpati Bappa was drowning, choking helplessly and the flashes of the disfigured Ganesh idols cast away at the shore looked to me nothing less than the aftermath of a terror attack! I wanted a logical explanation. The next morning I was flummoxed when my teacher told me that until 1893 Ganesh Chathurti was a private affair.
It was Lokmanya Tilak, the Indian social reformer and freedom fighter, who reformed the Ganesh festival from being originally a one-day private ritual to a 10-day public celebration, which also served as a inconspicuous meeting point to exchange secret agendas for freedom activists in an era when Indian social and political gatherings were forbidden by the British Raj.
Grandma always said that traditionally the Ganesh idol was made out of earthen clay and later the idol would be buried in the compound of one’s house or in a well. However, commerce demanded earthen or natural clay to be replaced by plaster of Paris that’s lighter, easier to mould and lesser expensive than clay.
However, plaster of Paris takes two years to dissolve, releases toxic elements along with chemical paints releasing heavy metals like mercury cadmium. No wonder we see those shoals of dead fish floating on the surface of the water body, the day after visrajan.
1893’s strongest nationalist movement to inspire Hindu unity in Maharasthtra, continues to bring together lakhs of people. But just like the Govinda handis are going higher and the cash prizes are getting heavier, the size of the Ganesh idols are also towering annually. The larger the idol, the more toxic particles they produce. Does our bhakti really depend on the size of the idol?
I was proud to read about BMC’s initiative of increasing the number of artificial pools to accommodate eco-friendly Ganesh idols. Environmental groups advice use of smaller idols and encourage visarjans in a bucket of water at home.
Commercialisation of religious festivals indeed helps nurturing the communalfeeling, but when the celebration ends and the environment suffers, people need to evaluate the problem. The new-age Indian freedom fighters are fighting against corruption, environmental pollution, among many other threats to India. The path is rough. The cost of natural clay Ganesh idol is expensive.
Yet, to begin with, I urge all children, the faces of tomorrow, to insist to their parents that the cost of an eco-friendly Ganesh idol is not more than the cost of their kids’ healthy future. Welcome an eco-friendly Ganapati Bappa home and say no to plaster of Paris.
Source from dnaindia
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