November 6, 2020: Inspired by the commitment of Uttar Pradesh government for the protection, promotion and conservation of cattle in the country, women of Varanasi are not only serving the cows but engaged in self-employment by making fragrant incense sticks and other products from cow dung making Diwali eco-friendly.

The Government has begun a nation-wide initiative to encourage use of cow dung-based products during the forthcoming Diwali festival.  This initiative of making vivid range of natural and eco-friendly products from cow dung has helped in generating employment and making the environment sustainable. Apart from joss sticks and Sambrani cups, the women of Kashi also make eco-friendly idols of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha.

As soon as the cups and incense sticks get ready, they are dipped in Panchagavya (Milk, Curd, Ghee, Gobar and Cow urine). Ingredients which are used in the making of incense sticks (dhoop batti) and Sambrani cups include Brahmi, Jatamansi, Shankhpushpi, Sugandh Bala, Guggul, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Clove, Cardamom, Balchhad (Jatamansi), camphor, Nut grass (Nagarmotha), Balangani, Rudraksha wood, Resin, etc.

Chairman and Environmentalist of the Madan Mohan Malaviya Research Centre of BHU, Mr. BD Tripathi explains, “Wood or bark of ayurvedic and medicinal plants are being used in the making of incense sticks and other ‘Pooja’ materials. These materials when burnt help in killing harmful and pathogenic bacteria and also purify the environment.” He also requested not to buy imported idols that are made from harmful metals including chromium, nickel, and aluminum as these pollute the river which gives harmful effects on aquatic animals.

Requesting to boycott Chinese products, Mr. Tripathi stated, “Indian women are challenging Chinese products by making top-class items from natural ingredients that are equipped with many features. So, I request you to boycott Chinese products and promote indigenous products. This initiative will also help in promoting employment in the country.”

It is to be mentioned that Rita Tiwari, an entrepreneur, during the lockdown, went to distribute food among the needy people. There she was requested to find employment so that poor people can work and become ‘Atmanirbhar’ (self-reliant). She contacted Swanand Gau Science Center and decided to start the business of making incense sticks from cow dung. Within a short time, this initiative was joined by over 300 women and helped them earn Rs 200-300 per day.