Eco-friendly Initiatives during Durga Puja 2007

There have been numerous initiatives in recent years from several quarters to make Hindu festivals eco-friendly. Earlier, festivals associated with Hinduism were noted for its environment-friendly nature. But with the arrival of plastic and cheap Plaster of Paris idols, festivals like Ganesh Puja and Durga Puja are creating widespread environmental and public health impacts. During Durga Puja 2007, the Priests and several Durga Puja committees are earnestly trying to make the whole celebration an eco-friendly affair.

A major eco-friendly initiative in 2007 has come from the Priests in West Bengal through their association Bangiya Purohit Sabha. They have come out with a guideline for setting up eco-friendly Durga Puja pandals. The association has made it clear that they will not allow any kind of plastic objects like plastic garlands, plastic plates or cups in the pujas that they are performing. They are demanding a return to traditional puja items made of bell-metal, clay, copper, silver, wood and plantain leaves.

The governments and NGOs have been campaigning hard to make festivals eco-friendly. Due to their strong campaign many Durga Puja committees are talking about global warming and how they can help in lessening the greenhouse gas emissions. This is a welcome change and shows that the environment friendly campaign is reaching at the grassroots level. A couple of Durga Puja committees have made issues like greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and global warming a theme for their pandals.

On their part, several Durga Puja committees are opting for solar energy for decoration and illumination. Some are opting for solar cooker especially for the rice offering given to Goddess Durga. Energy-efficient lamps and solar lanterns are also becoming popular in several Durga Puja pandals.

Sound pollution is another area that needs immediate attention. The music accompanying the puja is understandable. But the high decibel sound that is made by the indiscriminate use of loudspeakers at odd times should be controlled. There are have been several initiatives from the government and citizens towards reducing noise pollution and it is encouraging to note that several puja committees are discussing these issues.

Another major concern is the water pollution due to the immersion of idols made from Plaster of Paris and chemical and metallic paints and dyes. Apart from this various puja items made from plastic are also immersed in the rivers and ponds. But the pollution created by idols is much less when compared to Ganesh Puja because Durga Puja idols are less in number and many committees still prefer clay idols. But still there is a growing concern due to the use of idols made from Plaster of Paris and chemical paints.

A welcome change is that people are taking about environment issues during festivals and many are trying to make changes in their normal agenda to accommodate eco-friendly aspects.