The most serious impact of the Ganesh festival on the natural environment is due to the immersion of idols made of Plaster of Paris (POP) into lakes, rivers and the sea. POP contains chemicals such as gypsum, Sulphur, phosphorus, and magnesium. The dyes used to color these idols contain mercury, cadmium, arsenic, lead, and carbon. Plastic and thermocol accessories are used to decorate these idols. Such materials are not biodegradable, hence they are toxic. The water experiences a rise in acidity as well as traces of heavy metal. The toxic waste kills plant and animal life in the water. People who use water polluted by these immersions experience a host of health problems such as infections of the lungs, and diseases of the skin, blood, and eyes.
Environmental Impact of Ganesh Festival
* Ganesh idols are made of plaster of Paris (POP). POP dissolves slowly, gradually releasing its harmful components. The toxic waste kills plant and animal life in the water.
* Plastic and thermocol waste, including polythene bags containing offerings, is usually immersed with the idols. It also obstructs the flow of streams, leading to flooding during the rains. The stagnant water become a breeding ground for diseases and is a major health hazard for a locality.
* Residents who use water polluted by these immersions experience a host of health problems.
* The chemical paints used to adorn these plaster icons themselves contain heavy metals like mercury and cadmium. Hence they are toxic for environment.
* The day after the immersion, shoals of dead fish can be seen floating on the surface of the water body as a result of this sudden increase in the level of acidity in the water.
* Song and dance are an integral part of the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. Ear-splitting decibels are not just disturbing, but a major health hazard for senior citizens, Children and patients in the locality or neighborhood.
Celebrating Eco-friendly Ganesh festival
You can celebrate your Ganesh festival without affecting or disturbing environment. Eco-friendly Ganesh festival enables you to celebrate festival grandly without harming environment and other living beings. Following are some important ways to celebrate Eco-friendly Ganesh festival.
* Natural idols not only help environment but maintain Vedic significance of Lord Ganesh. Return to the traditional use of natural clay icons and immerse the icon in a bucket of water or a tank specially made for the purpose.
* Ensure that the dyes used to color the idols are organic or vegetable in origin.
* Ban on the immersion of plaster icons into lakes, rivers and the sea.
* You can use idol of stone or metal for ganesh festival and symbolically immerse this in a bucket of water, or even carry it in procession to the sea, hold it under the water, and then bring it back home. Use the same idol for next year on ganesh Chaturthi.
* Devotees bring fruits and flowers as offering for lord ganesh on the festival day. Polythene bags containing offerings, is usually immersed with the idols. Therefore, Say no to Polythene or plastic on this ganesh festival.
* Banning or reducing the use of loudspeakers will go a long way in reducing noise pollution.
* Encourage people to immerse the icons in tanks of water rather than in natural water bodies.
* Offer incentives or prize for Residents or communities celebrating eco-friendly ganesh festival.
* If one is using a POP idol, simply sprinkling a few drops of water on it as a symbolic immersion and donating the idol to be recycled for the following year.