Reduce, reuse and recycle is new Durga Puja mantra
Two tall pillars decorated with crushed soft drink cans welcome everyone entering the Durga Puja pandal at Aradhana Park in IP Extension. Inside, Goddess Durga and deities Kartik, Ganesha, Lakshmi, and Saraswati appear uniquely silver-tinged.
A closer look makes it apparent that Durga’s face is made of material from an old gas cylinder, her ten arms are made of shock absorbers, and the rest of the idol is made from material cut out of discarded canister drums. Themed on recycled scrap material, the pandal’s (tent) message is that recycling and reusing waste in creative ways is one of the most efficient means of saving the environment.
“In the day and age that we live, if we do not make the best possible use of garbage, we will not be able to save our future,” Pinaki Ranjan Saha, one of the organisers of the puja at IP Extension, says.
Saving the environment is a recurring theme of Durga Puja in Delhi this year, with most pandals placing a strict ban on the use of plastic and thermocol.
At the Block E puja pandal in Chittaranjan Park, posters with the message ‘no use of plastic’ are up on all the pillars. “We have decided to not allow anyone carrying plastic inside the pandal,” Anup Acharya, member of the Chittaranjan Park Purbanchal Durga Puja Samiti, says. “We have also discontinued the use of thermocol to serve ‘bhog’ (food that is a religious offering consumed by worshippers) as well in decorations. Instead, we are using plates made of sugarcane to serve food,” he adds.
Chittaranjan Park in South Delhi hosts about 12-13 puja pandals each year and the predominantly Bengali neighbourhood is visited by over 50,000 people in the course of the last three days of the puja.
Similar arrangements have been made in other parts of the city as well. “We have put a strictly banned plastic and are working towards efficient segregation of waste material inside the pandal,” Shelly Bhowmik of the Patel Nagar puja committee says.
At the Matri Mandir Puja Pandal in Safdurjung Enclave, the theme this year is ‘Jorasankho Thakurbari’ (the house of Rabindranath Tagore). “We have used wood in place of thermocol to create the pillars and windows resembling those in Tagore’s house at Kolkata,” Sandip Mukherjee, pandal secretary at Matri Mandir, says.
Following rules set by the Delhi government, the puja committees have also made arrangements to immerse the idols in artificial ponds rather than the Yamuna. “A pit has been created inside the pandal itself to immerse the idols,” Samir Dutta, president of the Chittaranjan Park’s Cooperative Ground Durga Puja Samiti, says.
At IP Extension, on the other hand, organisers have decided to not immerse the idols and display them either at the Waste Wonders Park in Sarai Kale Khan or at another museum.
The Kashmere Gate puja committee, which holds the oldest known Durga Puja in the city dating back to 1910, has decided to halt the nearly 110-year-old tradition of an immersion procession on a bullock cart to make way for a cleaner Yamuna.
“The nearest artificial pond that is close to our pandal is about 10km away in Burari. The bullock cart will not be able to go that far. We have decided to carry the idols in bullock carts till a short distance, and then transfer them to trucks,” Robin Bose, general secretary of the Kashmere Gate Durga Puja committee, says.