When beautiful Ganesha idols start lining the roadsides, you know Ganesh Chaturthi is approaching (puja is from September 5-15). So is the time for submersion of these idols in the city’s Yamuna river, adding to pollution. However, this time, the focus is on making festivals eco-friendly. And giving it a push is Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
During his monthly radio address, Mann Ki Baat, Modi — in a first-of-its-kind move by an Indian PM — on Sunday encouraged the use of clay to make idols instead of Plaster of Paris. “Clay is eco-friendly. We must go back to clay for sculpting idols of Ganesh and Durga (for Durga Puja in October),” he said.
Ganesh Puja organisers are motivated to save the environment. The Ganesh Mahotsav — Dilli Ka Maharaja, Laxmi Nagar will see a 12-feet high fibre idol that will be worshipped for 10 days at the pandal, but a separate 2.5 feet idol that will be submerged in the Yamuna for symbolic purposes. “This idol is eco-friendly and contains seeds that’ll grow into plants when exposed to water,” says Mahendra Ladda, president, Sri Ganesh Sewa Mandal.
“We are from Maharashtra but have been living in Delhi for decades. As responsible citizens, we want to give back to Delhi by making our festival pollution-free. We’ve always tried to get eco-friendly idols. Modiji’s words have further inspired us. This is just a small step towards the Swachch Bharat that Modiji wants to make,” adds Ladda.
Durga Puja organisers, too, are headed the same way. Abhijit Bose, executive chairman, Arambagh Puja, Panchkuian Road, says, “Our theme will be: In Search of Roots. As our PM says, we’ve decided to preserve our dying arts and have invited a National Award winner to make a 10 feet high jute idol of Durga. We are in talks with corporates to place this idol in their office after puja. A small idol of 4-5 feet made of clay will instead be immersed in water.”
Some have even decided to gift saplings as momentos to their VIP guests. There’s more. “The flowers offered to idols over 10 days of puja will be decomposed later,” says Naresh Goyal, president, Lalbagh ka Raja Trust. Their 15-feet high eco-friendly idol is so far the highest that’s worshipped in Delhi. After the PM’s address, they are reconsidering its submersion in the Yamuna. “Our idol is eco-friendly and if Narendra Modi ji has said to make clay idols then it is only for our better future,” he adds.