Like the rest of the nation, AstroVed is gearing up to celebrate Ganesha Chaturthi, the birthday of the elephant-headed deity, Lord Ganesha. Along with the excitement and fervor that typically accompanies each Ganesha Chaturthi celebration, there is a heightened awareness and concern about the after effects of the celebrations as well with respect to the environment, especially water bodies. The festival culminates with the immersion of the Ganesha idols in nearby water bodies. However this has a grave impact on them as the idols are often made of Plaster of Paris and chemical paints are used in their making. Plaster of Paris (POP) idols comprise elements like gypsum, sulphur, phosphorus and magnesium. Chemical paints have cadmium, mercury, carbon and lead which are quite toxic. People also throw plastic flowers, garlands, thermocol and other decorations which are not bio-degradable, into the water bodies. This increases acidity levels and also the presence of organic matter, solid matter and heavy metals in the water. It is harmful to marine life and also pollutes ground water which affects human beings too.
Keeping in mind all these things, AstroVed is sparing no effort to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi in an eco-friendly way. Our Ganesha idols are made of natural clay which do not pollute water bodies. Also, we do not use plastic in any form in the celebrations. No chemical paints are used on the idols. Instead, we use natural ingredients like turmeric, multani mitti and red sandalwood. No artificial lamps are used during the celebrations; only earthen lamps are used. To make the colorful rangolis, natural and bio-degradable colors like rice powder, henna, turmeric, gulal and sandalwood powder are preferred.
It is a common practice to use plastics for carrying offerings . Plastic pose severe environmental hazards as it does not dissolve in water. In fact, the state government has banned the use of single use plastic. Plastic covers and materials immersed in water end up causing obstruction to the water flow leading to floods during the rain. Many cows have died ingesting plastic bags. It is better to use wood, cloth, paper and other natural materials as they are bio-degradable. Paper bags can be used in place of polythene bags. While immersing idols, we do not throw garlands, flowers and other decorations. Instead, they are collected and disposed of in a compost pit. To distribute Prasad, food offerings, etc., we make use of banana leaves only. Coconuts smashed during rituals are given to the poor or to temples for use in Anna Daanam.
AstroVed believes that all life is connected and earth is the mother that nourishes us all. Celebrating festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi in an eco-friendly manner means that we treat Mother Earth with care and compassion so that she will thrive and continue to sustain life in the future as well.