Ganesh Chaturthi festival concludes with the Visarjan ritual and every year thousands of idols of Lord Ganesha are immersed in rivers, lakes and ponds. Since most of these idols are made of non-biodegradable materials like Plaster of Paris, it creates serious environmental problem. Poisonous chemicals and toxic paints used in these idols pollute the water and are found to be very harmful for both human beings and aquatic life. Because of this, many Indian states have banned such materials for making Ganesh idols. They have decided that only bio degradable materials such as unbaked clay, coconut, turmeric, papier mache, grass, salt dough, etc., shall be used for making Ganesh idols.
Measures Taken to Promote the Ecological Balance of Nature:
Many organizations and NGOs across the country create awareness among the people regarding eco-friendly Ganesha idols. Degradable eco-friendly materials like gum, chalk powder and papier mache can be safely used to make these idols. Since natural paint and gums are used, the immersion of these idols will not affect the ecological balance of nature. There is one such organization called Aniruddha Upasana Trust, a follower of Sadguru Shree Aniruddha Bapu, which uses materials like recycled paper, chalk powder, wood, gum etc., to make eco-friendly idols. On immersion, these idols fully dissolve in water without polluting it and creating no environmental issues. Most of the states in our country have banned the usage of Plaster of Paris for making Ganesh idols, which is very harmful to human and aquatic life. Tamil Nadu was the first state to ban Plaster of Paris idols in the year 2004, followed by Maharashtra and Gujarat in 2011 and Goa in 2013.
Various Eco-friendly Materials Used for Making Idols:
Shadu: It is a type of clay especially found in the Konkan region of Maharashtra. For centuries, Ganesha idols are made in Maharashtra using Shadu, and being natural clay these idols do not pollute water. They dissolve in water vary quickly and hence it is not harmful for aquatic life.
Papier Mache: As the name indicates, these eco-friendly idols are made by crushing paper. Through some particular process and procedures, specific shape, hardness and rigidity are imparted to these idols. The desired texture is obtained by using white ink powder. These Ganesh idols are very light in weight and do not harm the environment.
Metals: Nowadays several metals are used for making Ganesh idols, which include bronze, white metal or German silver, panchdhatu (alloy of five metals), etc. They are not required to be immersed, they do not have poisonous chemicals, and it is not necessary for re-painting and there is no harm to aquatic life.
Edible Materials: With the purpose of promoting a healthy environment, many eatables are nowadays used for making Ganesh idols. They include raw vegetables, water melon, chocolate, turmeric, gems, wheat flour and so on.
Water pollution has become a serious issue and both public and private organizations are working hard to spread awareness of the harmful effects of Plaster of Paris idols. Consequently, the eco-friendly Ganesh idols are nowadays popularly used in different parts of the country.