According to the Scriptures, the Ganesh holiday began as a way to thank the environment. It is observed annually in a manner that fosters spiritual awareness throughout society. Additionally, it needs to be observed with an emphasis on preserving and protecting the environment. With celebrations in houses and enormous crowds of devotees gathered in Ganesh Mandals and subsequently on beaches during the immersion of the idols, the Ganesh festival is currently one of the largest festivals in Mumbai.
The festival lasts for eleven days. In addition, a lot of holy trash (Nirmalya) is produced during the celebration in the shape of flowers, decorations, and other religious contributions. Overall, it is anticipated that ceremonies in homes and communities will be used to worship and immerse close to 3 lakh Ganesh idols.
At several beaches and lakes around the city, these Ganesha statues are submerged. The city beaches, which are never truly known to be completely clean, become even more contaminated with holy trash, such as bits of idols that have not yet broken down, flowers, and other decorative materials.
Effects of the Ganesh festival on the Environment:
a. Contribute to soil pollution by dumping thermocol decorations;
b. Contribute to water pollution by immersing idols and organic waste;
c. Affect the festival's sanctity by letting broken idols float in the water;
d. Block natural water flow and cause stagnation; and
e. Contribute to noise pollution due to artificial sound systems used during the procession.
f. Abundant use of electricity for decoration at the community and household levels. Such pollution harms the environment.
Such pollution harms people's health by
a. Contaminating drinking water sources, which has an adverse effect on their health;
b. Creating respiratory and skin issues because of the Gulal procession; and
c. For both adults and children, noise pollution causes psychological issues like dread, nausea, and hearing issues.
Some Ganesh Chaturthi customs are environmentally harmful. However, the oceans, rivers, and lakes are frequently left dirty and polluted following Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations and idol immersions, damaging all aquatic life and mother earth. These are a few examples of how rituals, celebrations, and immersions impact the environment.
Contamination of Water
Water bodies, such as oceans, seas, lakes, etc., are left significantly contaminated after the immersions. The water becomes contaminated and unclean when various objects, including idols and coconuts, and banana leaves, are submerged in it. Additionally, decorations are thrown into the ocean and other bodies of water.
Oxygen Levels Drop
The heavy, poisonous paint from the idols forms a coating on the water's surface, raising the water's acidity and depriving fish and other aquatic life of oxygen. On the day following Ganesh's immersions, a lot of dead fish are discovered floating on the water's surface.
Idols made of "plaster of Paris"
One of the most popular materials used to make Ganesha idols is plaster of Paris (POP). Since POP is a synthetic substance, it takes a long time to disintegrate. It is constructed of gypsum. Even years or many months may pass before it entirely dissolves.
Chemical Colors and Dyes
These idols are painted with chemical dyes, which are dangerous as well since they pollute the water. As the idol dissolves, toxic and heavy metals like lead, mercury, and other materials are released into the water, harming aquatic life.
Ganesh Chaturthi Celebrations Should Be Eco-Friendly. If you wish to make this festival environmental friendly, here are some guidelines and safety measures you may use to make sure your celebrations don't affect the environment:
Avoid using chemical paints containing harmful dyes and Colours
Instead use natural colours such as gheru, multani mitti, turmeric etc. for idols. Don’t use materials like thermocol or plastics for decoration that are not degradable and which do not dissolve in water. Instead, you can use biodegradable items like plain paper or colored paper for decorations.
Purchase environmentally friendly products.
For Ganesh Chaturthi, eco-friendly idols are available to purchase. Opt for Ganesha idols made of Paper-Mache/handmade paper. Clay idols instantly dissolve in water, significantly reducing or eliminating water pollution. You might even submerge it in a bucket at home. Many people also employ metal, stone, or wooden idols that are symbolically submerged in water before being removed and reused year after year. Mud-based Ganesha idols are also environmentally beneficial.
Compost all the biodegradable materials, such as flowers and other objects.
Flowers can be added to the soil, which will benefit the garden plants.
All followers of Lord Ganesha are free to continue the festival, but they must be careful not to harm the environment. Take safety steps to prevent freak accidents at the seashore or during processions. Loudspeaker use should be avoided or limited because it contributes to noise pollution.
The size of your Ganesha idol or the cost of your decorations has no bearing on how you celebrate. It is not intended to be a display of wealth or grandiosity. Instead, it concerns your inner religious sentiment, emotion, and feelings. Without harming the environment, people should rejoice and enjoy the celebration.