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Ganesh Chaturthi 2018: Take back plants with modaks as Ganpati Bappa’s blessings from pandals

This year, Ganpati puja celebrations around Delhi-NCR are coupled with plantation drives and efforts to raise awareness on planting saplings and nurturing them, to counter the pollution in the Capital.

delhi Updated: Sep 12, 2018 10:54 IST
Henna Rakheja
Henna Rakheja
Hindustan Times
Ganpati,Ganesh Utsav,Pandal
Residents worship at a Ganesh pandal in Delhi’s Rajinder Nagar. (Photo: Virendra Singh )

The grandeur of Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in Delhi-NCR rivals that of the Mumbai utsavs. But usually, that also means litter in the streets and a polluted river after visarjan. This year, however, is going to be another story. This time, the Ganpati festival (on September 13) will bring good luck to not just the devotees but also to the environment.

Besides getting delicious modaks as prasad, devotees will also get saplings. This is an extension of the eco-friendly steps that Ganpati puja organisers have been taking for the past few years — so far, we’ve seen chemical-free Ganesha idols, and curbs on the use of plastic at pandals.

Mahendra Ladda, founder-president, Shri Ganesh Area Mandal, which organises Delhi ka Maharaja in Laxmi Nagar, says, “We’ve been celebrating Ganpati puja for 16 years, and four years ago, we started using an eco-friendly Ganesha idol. We even initiated the practice of visarjan in the pandal itself, to avoid polluting the Yamuna and reducing traffic jams. And then we thought, ‘What about the pollution that has already corroded our environment?’ To fight this pollution, we decided to use plants as our weapons.

‘We’re decorating our Ganesha pandal with 4,500 potted plants, which will be distributed to visitors along with prasad, after visarjan’ — Mahendra Ladda, founder-president, Shri Ganesh Area Mandal

“We’re decorating our Ganesha pandal with 4,500 potted plants, which will be distributed to visitors along with prasad, after visarjan. This is to ensure that we do something for our future generations, so that they don’t curse us for having depleted whatever nature gave!”

Ladda tells us that the inspiration to counter pollution came to him after watching a video, in which he saw former President APJ Abdul Kalam explaining that by 2070, we might run out of natural resources if we don’t replenish them. “Therefore, we’ve ensured no plastic use, even in the waterproofing of the tent,” he says.

The sapling idea is shared by the committee of Lalbagh ka Raja, Pitampura. Puja pradhan Naresh Goyal says, “We’ve decided to present potted plants along with mementos to our guests who’ll visit during the Ganpati celebrations. These guests include Bollywood celebrities, and we feel that if they join us in the drive to plant saplings, then more people will follow.”

Some organisations began the festivities with plantation drives. Take the Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samiti, which sets up a Ganpati puja pandal at Huda Community Centre, Sector 27, Gurugram. “Before setting up the pandal, we organised a plantation drive, where around 150 people participated and planted 70 trees. Also, during the 10-day celebrations, we’ll have potted plants at our reception, which will be given away free to those who wish to take them. We don’t want to force people to take a plant, but we want that those who take it home should take good care of it,” says Manoj Kharad, president of the committee.

‘We thought of giving the message of ‘Save the Environment’ during this year’s Ganpati celebrations’ — Mandeep Singh, president of Dilli Ka Raja Utsav Samiti

Spreading awareness to nourish the urban greenery is also on the to-do list of other puja committees. Mandeep Singh, president of Dilli Ka Raja Utsav Samiti in Ramesh Nagar, says, “Recently, the NGT (National Green Tribunal) ordered some authorities to not to cut trees… To support this decision, we thought of giving the message of ‘Save the Environment’ during this year’s Ganpati celebrations. We have, therefore, decided to distribute at least 500 plants at the pandal. We’ll encourage everyone who visits the pandal to plant at least one sapling in their lifetime and take the responsibility of watering it regularly, so that it lives on for years after they’re gone.”

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First Published: Sep 11, 2018 19:15 IST