Ganesha and Idols

Topics: Ganesh Chaturthi, Maharashtra, Ganesha Pages: 6 (1683 words) Published: October 27, 2013
Indian calendar is filled with lots of festivals and holidays considering different religions. Few days ago, Ganesh Festival or locally known as “Ganesh Chaturthy” was celebrated all over India and also abroad in some parts where majority of Indians are living. Originally it was celebrated by every hindu religious person by establishing a small idol of lord Ganesha in their homes and by offering prayers daily with their family and friends for 10 days. But during British rule, to encourage the fight for freedom among the people, one of the great Indian freedom fighter-Lokmanya Tilak used Ganesha Festival as a hidden way to gather people and to encourage them for the fight for freedom. After that, Ganesha festival became a big public event. Initially, it was celebrated only in the Maharashtra state of India but slowly it has spread all over the India. Even after the freedom from British rule, Ganesh festival is used as a noble cause to gather people and spread the awareness about different national issues through different symbolic imitations of historical or current political, environmental issues along with the idol of Ganesha. The organizations of youngsters, who will present a good message with most effectively and environment friendly gets award from the city counci

The Environmental Impact of Ganesh Chaturthi
To be able to choose the most appropriate ecosensitive solution it is important that we understand the environmental impacts of Ganesh Chaturthi.

These can be summarised to be the following:
1. The water pollution caused by the immersion of Plaster of Paris idols into natural water bodies. 2. The water pollution caused by chemical paints used on these idols.

1. The waste generated by the non biodegradable accessories used during the worship. 2. Noise pollution
3. Traffic congestion
4. Increased consumerism
Amongst these the first two can be partially resolved by a shift to eco sensitive materials and practices.    

Water Pollution: 

The Issue
For some years now we have been observing a growing awareness about the water pollution caused by the immersion of Ganesh idols made out of Plaster of Paris, in natural water bodies such as lakes, rivers and the sea. PoP is not a naturally occurring material. Plaster of Paris is a calcium sulfate hemi-hydrate : (CaSO4, ½ H2O) derived from gypsum, a calcium sulfate dihydrate (CaSO4 , 2 H2O), by firing this mineral at relatively low temperature and then reducing it to powder. While idols made out of naturally occurring clay ( shaadu in Marathi) dissolve within hours of immersion in water, PoP idols may  take anywhere between several months to years to fully dissolve. In addition, when chemical paints are used to decorate the idols, these paints contain heavy metals such as mercury and lead, which seep into the water as the idol dissolves.  

In Bangalore a study done by the Central Pollution Control Board to assess the impact of immersion of Ganesh idols on the lakes revealed the following: The acid content in the waters increased.
The TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) increased by a 100%
The Dissolved Oxygen content increased during the day due to the agitation of waters during immersion and reduced at night when organic discharge increased. The heavy metal content sampling showed an increase in metals such as iron which increased nearly 10 times and the content of copper in the sediments increased by 200 to 300 %. Possible solutions:

Since the main issue around water pollution has got to do with the idol immersion ritual, several people are now suggesting a slight variation of this ritual to avoid water pollution. These include:

1. Immersing the idol in a water tan constructed by the government, instead of directly into natural water bodies. 2. Using only a natural clay idol and immersing it either in the tank or in a bucket of water at home. 3. Immersing a 'betel nut' which symbolises the idol and reusing the same idol every...
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