The ten-day long spectacular Ganesh Festival finally comes to an end with Ganesh Visarjan in the water bodies. Do you realize the environmental damage this immersion can cause? Thousands of idols made from harmful materials like plaster of Paris and toxic metals, coated with deadly paints containing mercury, lead, cadmium, and carbon enter into our water bodies. And every year, these statues pollute water bodies across India. Do you know that just Mumbai’s sea takes in about 1.5 lakh idols every year? Is it any wonder then oxygen levels in the water bodies’ fall by about 50% immediately after the 10-day Ganesh Utsav?
Ganesh festival is celebrated for 10 days with much pomp and gaiety amongst the worshippers. The festival is ended with the Ganesh Visarjan in lakes, rivers and the sea bidding adieu to the Hindu God. This was a day of great joyousness and celebration but it has an ugly side too. It causes huge environmental damage. According to Mumbai municipality law, these idols must be removed from the lakes and water bodies, before it starts reacting with organic matter. But municipal bodies ignore the Ganesh idols for months.
As we look back at the beginning of the tradition of celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi, we learn that the first idols for this day were made from the wet clay from the local rivers and lakes. The day after Chaturthi celebrations, these idols were immersed in the same lake. Now, times have changed and so have the styles of preparation. Now, the old concept of clay idols started vanishing. Although there are organizations working towards creating awareness about the benefits of using eco-friendly idols, not much is happening on the ground.