An eco-friendly celebration of our traditional way of life

Eco-friendly Ganesh Chaturthi decorations using palm leaves, wood and clay crafts


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These days, “sustainability” has become the buzzword, and now, there is sustainable fashion, housing, etc. Interestingly, if we look at our traditional lifestyle, we realize that we have always been sustainable. The best way to find out is through our festivals.

With the most important Hindu festival in Goa, ganesh chaturthi, Just around the corner, let’s find out how this entire festival is actually a celebration of the environment and sustainability.

Bring home an eco-friendly idol

The Ganesh idol, which was brought home a day later Chaturthitraditionally made of clay, or mate checks, As it is known locally. This clay is obtained from the river bed and hence, when the idol is immersed, it returns to the source.

But, unfortunately, with these changing times, the way we celebrate our festivals is also changing. in this time, Ganesh Chaturthi The decorations are plastic in nature, and in many places, the statue is made of plaster of Paris (POP).

In Goa, it is illegal to immerse Ganesh idols made of pops. But despite the ban, POP idols are still being made because they are lightweight, have a quick setting time (so more can be made in a shorter time frame) and have a better finish than those made of traditional clay.

Unlike clay idols which dissolve in water instantly, POPs (which contain gypsum, sulfur, phosphorus and magnesium) float and decompose slowly and in the process poison the water of lakes, ponds, rivers and seas.

However, besides having a clay statue, it is also necessary to use environmentally friendly colors. Chemical paints used to decorate Ganesh statue sometimes contain harmful chemicals, and this may lead to increased acidity and heavy metal content in the water.

Therefore, the easiest alternative is to make or buy clay idols painted in natural colours.

The Ganesh idol is made entirely of clay, using minimal colours

It is a tradition in Goa to get Ganesh idols from local artisans, who are located in different villages in the state. We need to continue this tradition because then we will be aware of how this idol is made.

Plus, it’s the most sustainable option, and in return, we also help local craftsmen and technicians. One can customize clay idols made in natural or eco-friendly colours, without the use of oil or spray paint.

Paper idols

Manoj Prabhugaonkar, a Ganesh idol artist from Masham village in Canacona, went one step further as he made idols of papier-mache And watercolors.

These idols can be a perfect alternative to POP idols because they are much lighter and are also an environmentally friendly option.

In fact, in Goa, there are few families who celebrate ganesh chaturthi, Not with clay idols, but by drawing the image of the Lord on paper. So, for these families, these idols are a perfect alternative.

Nowadays, other families in the village are also requesting these idols. He also makes idols made mainly of clay with minimal colours.

Matole is all natural

the Ganesh Chaturthi Celebration in Goa and Konkan is incomplete without Mattoli. This is a wooden canopy hung over a Ganesh statue, which is decorated with various fruits, flowers, leaves, buds, roots etc. Most of these items were medicinal, and thus, the practice of collecting wild items was a way to teach the next generation about their use.

the Mattoli It is actually a celebration of backyard biodiversity. Hence, if possible, it should be sourced from our own backyards as most of the time the festival is held in the family’s home village.

This practice of collecting Mattoli The elements will also help you understand your environment.

Say no to non-biodegradable accessories

Many accessories used during Ganesh Puja – Such as plastic flowers, cloth, incense boxes, camphor and many other materials It is thrown into the river during immersion.

Choose biodegradable and safe compostable items instead. One can also use decorative items made of paper, cardboard, cotton, bamboo, coconut or wood.

Now many cities and municipalities of Goa have installed it Nirmalya Pots near immersion sites. This helps devotees dispose of articles, especially any non-biodegradable materials related to the festival.

It is a practice that the CCP began more than a decade ago in Panjim.

The other issue is the use of fireworks during the festival. It is a festival artist And Poojas, not from noise. Adopt less noisy and non-polluting practices. Be considerate of infants, the elderly and pets.

One must remember Ganesh Chaturthi It is a festival that brings together people from different communities to celebrate our biodiversity in the most creative way. We need to ensure that we continue this tradition and not get carried away in trends that may in the long run harm our environment, which this festival symbolizes.

In this regard, I wish everyone happiness and prosperity Ganesh Chaturthi!

Aarti Das is a freelance journalist based in Goa. She loves writing about art, culture and environment in Goa.

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    (tags for translation) Best of Goa India 

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