Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with utmost discipline all over the country. All the rituals are followed just the way they’re meant to and what’s more, the festival is celebrated with immense dedication and devotion by the devotees. But little do we respect the idle after the Pooja. Not one out of the 31 lakes in Bengaluru have water fit for consumption. Not one. This is the aftermath of the festival that all of us turn a blind eye to. Here are the serious hazards that are caused by us to the environment during Ganesh Visarjan.
PUJA DEBRIS IS THE REAL DEAL.
Its often a misled behaviour that people tend to throw the remains of Pooja items into the river or a lake or a canal instead of properly disposing it. While flowers and leaves won’t create much damage, but plastic items, cloths and wrappers create as much damage to the ecosystem.
The puja debris that are left behind in the waterbodies pollute the lakes and rivers and make them unfit for inhabiting. We are slowly killing an important part of our ecosystem. The best way to avoid this would be to separate the puja debris from the idle and follow proper waste disposal methods and reuse, recycle as and when possible.
THE IDOL IMMERSION.
With the passion of celebrating this festival, we generally forget the hazardous impact of the immersion of idols on environment. The idol of Ganesh is generally made up of clay, Plaster of Paris (POP), plastic and cement. Toxic paints are also used in decorating the idol. After the immersion, the ingredients of the statue does not completely dissolve in water which then leads to environmental pollution. The idles made of pop and plastic cause more damage than you can imagine. they slowly pollute the water they’re immersed in and make the water unfit for human usage and consumption. Not just the idle material, but also the synthetic paints used to decorate the idle, float around the water contaminating it. The best solution to this would be to use either clay or mud idles. Mud when immersed, settles at the bottom and causes no damage to the rivers or lakes.
However, both these changes are attributed to puja material, rather than the paint on the idols. Successive campaigns on ecofriendly Ganesh idols have focussed on dissuading people from using painted Ganesh idols, but these numbers indicate that dumping of material used in pujas — such as plantain leaves, flowers, curd and ghee have led to greater deterioration of water quality. When fish and other water bodies consume this water and are in turn eaten by us, we fall sick as well. The process of bio magnification happens when the diseases are carried from one level of the eco system to the other. By polluting the water and consuming water bodies that lived in the contaminated water will put us at risk at the end of it.
The pH value of the water (indicative of its alkalinity) increased by around 7 to 8 per cent for all the lakes after immersions: this owes to plaster of paris, adhesive materials and paints. Metallic content remained undetected for most samples, barring Lalbagh lake where 0.001 mg/l of mercury was detected after immersions. Iron content increased in almost all surface water samples (increased significantly in Lalbagh and Shivapura lakes). Lake sediment analysis, however, showed huge increase in ferrous (iron) content, and small increases in mercury traces too.
Remember friends, it is not just the onset of the puja that’s important, but also the aftermath we need to settle. We owe the environment some love and care and let’s not degrade it any further.