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India@70: Green Ganeshas bloom on wisdom of eco-warriors

India will change for the better only when children are guided in the right direction and become the agents of change. Inspired by what they’ve learnt in school, a number of children are driving change in their homes and neighbourhood.

pune Updated: Aug 14, 2017 23:24 IST
Anjali Shetty
Anjali Shetty
Hindustan Times, Pune
Ganesh idol,Ganeshotsav,Decorations
As in many other households in Pune, it is a child who has brought about change benefitting the environment.(HT PHOTO)

It was two years ago that 10-year-old Darshan Phadnis declared that he did not want a Plaster of Paris (POP) Ganesh idol in his house during the annual Ganeshotsav festival.

A student of Dr Kalmadi Shamarao High School, Darshan was convinced about the hazards of pollution caused to the rivers by the lead-based paints on these sturdy idols, which did not disintegrate in water.

“I learnt in my school that putting hazardous elements in the river not only pollutes it but also causes problems for the marine flora and fauna. So I decided to start with my home first,” he said in an interview to Hindustan Times.

As a part of raising sensitivity among children towards the environment, Darshan’s school urged the children to switch to ecofriendly clay idols made of Shadu mud and paint these idols with natural colours. Or better still, install a metal idol which need not be immersed in the water.

“We now have a metal idol at home,” Darshan explained, and said, “I tell my friends too, to do likewise. Some listen, some don’t.”

As in many other households in Pune, it is a child who has brought about change benefitting the environment.

Adaah Somji (HT PHOTO)

Five-year-old Adaah Somji, a student of Vivero International, has put herself in-charge of all the plastic waste in the house. “I take mom’s help to gather all the plastic waste that collects and tell her to give it for recycling. I have been told in school and by mom that these products cause heavy damage to our planet. I want to help reduce this damage,” says Adaah.

During Ganeshotsav, Adaah shows her sensitivity towards the underprivileged and the environment. Her mother Dimple said, “She wants to constantly help the needy. So one practice that we follow during Ganeshotsav is to distribute the money collected in the thali (steel plate) of the Ganesh puja to the underprivileged. She also adds some amount to this collection from her piggy bank.”

For 12-year-old Roshan Sarode who studies at Symbiosis School, tending to environmental issues has been on his list for a long time. His mother Rama shares, “He has been making his own Ganesh idol and insists on doing so. We do not immerse the idol or haven’t adopted any practice that causes harm to the surroundings.”

“I have never bought firecrackers or used hazardous elements during festivals. Decorations for Ganeshotsav and Diwali are also picked with much thought so as to cause minimum, or no harm to the Earth. I carry my own shopping bag to the market and ensure everyone in the house does to,” said Roshan.

Cousins Jiyaa Bagla and Amyra Aga (HT PHOTO)

Cousins Jiyaa Bagla and Amyra Agarwal look forward to Ganeshotsav because they get to sculpt their own Ganesh idol out of mud. According to Megha, Jiyaa’s mother, “She has been very conscious about the environment from a very young age. She doesn’t allow me to buy plastic or carry plastic bags to, or from the market. She insists on carrying a cloth bag.”

Jiyaa adds, “Our planet is in a bad shape and we need to make changes now. Even the smallest of change in our lifestyle will make a huge difference. Social media and my school have been instrumental in making me realise this.”

First Published: Aug 14, 2017 23:22 IST