The gods may have decreed an immersion of their idols after their earthly sojourns, but they certainly forgot to provide for some holy waters.
So, the enterprising in Bundelkhand’s Banda district came up with ‘bhumi-visarjan’ — consignation to earth.
Till two years ago, Banda idols were immersed in river Ken.
Banda got the idea to prevent idol immersion in the river two years ago from similar efforts in adjacent Fatehpur, where some people have opted for bhumi-visarjan instead of jal-visarjan in river Ganga, which causes water pollution.
“It would take time for all the puja-organisers to go in for bhoomi-visarjan, but a beginning has been made. There’s some opposition as well, but we are trying to tell people that the health of our water bodies is important. Chemical paints and adhesives used in the idols harm the eco-system of the rivers,” said Ashish Sagar of Pravas Society, Banda.
The society has been campaigning since 2010 to discourage devotees from immersing “polluting” idols in rivers and ponds.
This year at least 10 of Banda’s 380 idols will be consigned to earth.
In Banda, Chitrakoot Jan Kalyan Samiti and some other organisations, volunteers, academicians, environment activists and even some administration officers are supporting the movement, driven mainly by youth.
The Pravas Society has requested the municipal authorities to deploy an earthmover to dig up a huge pit on the banks of Ken to facilitate bhoomi-visarjan of the idols of goddess Durga after the ongoing Navratra festival.
“We tell people that the riverside pit burial of idols conforms to their beliefs, in the sense that the river waters would wash over them even so under the ground,” said Sagar.
Finally, an earthly solution to an otherworldly problem.