On August 31st of this year, 2022, Ganesh Chaturthi (Vinayaka Chaturthi) will be celebrated with grandeur. Lakhs of idols are going to be immersed in water as a part of the ritual. This is very close to people’s hearts and a lot of sentimental value revolves around it. However, we cannot ignore its impact on water bodies entirely.

In Bengaluru, the water quality has been recorded to fluctuate every 5 months already! In May-June, TDS levels skyrocketed to 1,236 PPM in areas like Electronic City (the safe range being 500 PPM). While the hardness levels in HSR Layout and Whitefield were well above the acceptable standards, touching 580 PPM (the safe range being 200 PPM). All of these numbers were significantly lower before the monsoon season. This volatility, coupled with the added contamination due to the festival, is only going to worsen the quality of the water and make it even more unpredictable.

As time changes, all of us, including these traditions, have been adapting to the present-day world and its requirements. We need to re-look into our involvement in water pollution caused by idol immersion.

So, what can you do to ensure minimal water pollution this Ganesh Chaturthi?

  1. Bring home idols made from clay and other sustainable materials

The idols are usually made from plaster of Paris (PoP) and do not decompose naturally. Made with magnesium, phosphorus and other elements, it takes several months to dissolve in the water, poisoning it in the process. The paint on the idol containing lead, mercury and other toxic substances leaves behind its residue. This acidic waste hampers the entire marine ecosystem. Hence, go for idols that are made of clay and painted with natural colors.

  1. Use natural decorations

A lot of waste is also left on roads and around water bodies where the visarjan takes place. These decorations, made from plastic and other non-degradable materials, are seen floating days and months after the festival. It can be life-threatening to aquatic life or animals that might consume it, thinking of it as food. Use flowers, leaves and other natural materials as your decorations.

  1. Avoid immersing idols in lakes, beaches or any other natural water reservoirs

We rely on water from natural water bodies for drinking and other purposes. As such, we need to ensure that it is kept clean. Immersing idols in these water bodies will require the water to go through heavy treatments to get rid of the contaminants. Instead, the idols can be immersed in make-shift water tanks or other artificially made water sources. This water can then be reused to water plants, wash vehicles or do other chores.

  1. Reuse your idols

This is another new-age option that a lot of people are opting for. Instead of immersing the idol in water, they either immerse it in home water tanks or sprinkle water on the idol as a symbol. This idol is then kept inside safely and reused for years to come. It is also encouraged to have one single Ganapathi pandhal for the entire community to reduce the number of idols and decorations while also bringing together people in unity.

  1. Clean up after yourself!

As we bid adieu to the Lord, let us also clean up after ourselves. Be it around our own homes or in public places and especially water bodies. Ensure that nothing is left behind and is safely disposed of.

The pandemic has made us realize that health comes above all! And safe drinking water is crucial for maintaining our health. Drinking water, a limited source, is already in grave danger. We need to ensure our traditions do not contribute to making the situation worse.

Keep in mind the long-term effects of short-term celebrations. Let us take conscious decisions and opt for sustainable idols and decorations that not just uphold culture but also have minimal involvement in the pollution of water and the environment as a whole.

Let us celebrate responsibly.