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F E S T I V A L S  &  Y O U

I D O L   I M M E R S I O N

Shri Green Ganesh Nama:!
An elephantine problem
The materials used to make some Ganesh idols may be toxic!

Plaster of paris contains gypsum, sulphur, phosphorus and magnesium

Chemical paints contain mercury, cadmium, lead and carbon Immersion of these can poison the waters of lakes, rivers and the sea by increasing acidity increasing solid matter increasing organic matter increasing content of heavy metals

Such pollution damages the ecosystem by Killing the fishes Damaging the plants Blocking the natural flow of the water and causing stagnation

And damages health by polluting drinking water sources causing Breathing problems Blood diseases Skin diseases

The alternative
Use permanent idols made of brass or stone

Do a symbolic immersion

Reuse the same idol again the next year

Use a small unpainted idol made of unbaked clay if you immerse the idol

Immerse the idol in a tub or a water tank

Collect the flowers and nirmalya and compost them

Avoid the use of thermocole and
plastic in decorations


Idol immersion during the festival season this year is going to take much more than getting your feet wet.

Gone are the days when Mr and Mrs Murthi made or bought Ganesh idols made of eco-friendly clay for pooja during ‘vinayaka chaturthi ’.There is a growing threat from “Bombay- ishtyle Ganesh ”or “Designer Ganesh ”.Not only are the idols becoming bigger and modelled after modern social themes like terrorism and cricket but they are now being made from toxic materials.

The practice of immersion of Ganesh idols after the Ganesh festival in various cities is causing severe water pollution. Studies conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board show that idol immersion during festive occasionslike  Vinayaka Chaturthi and Durga Puja is putting “significant stress ” (pollution)on rivers, lakes and local ponds.

Plaster Of Paris does not get dissolved or disintegrated fast. Moreover, the chemical dyes and colours being used to colour the idols contain poisonous elements. Particularly, Red, Blue, Orange and Green colours contain Mercury, Zinc oxide, Chromium and Lead, the potential causes of developing cancer.

According to one estimate,7500 idols of Ganesh are weighing about 20,000 kg or in other words,20 tonnes. The sea-shore of Mumbai absorbs the immersion of about 1.5 lakh idols every year. No wonder accumulation of clay, Plaster Of Paris, dangerous chemicals from the paints and colours is affecting fish and other aquatic creatures. Besides our water sources are being poisoned.

The immersion of Durga statues during the Durga pooja is also a cause of concern. In Orissa alone 5,000 Durga pooja idols are made, most of them using harmful paints. Heavy metals like lead and chrome are not easily assimilated in an aquatic environment and can cause immense flora and fauna of the river, pond, lake and coastal areas. As the same river, pond and lake water is used for bathing and drinking purpose high levels of lead can damage the heart, kidneys, liver, circulatory system and central nervous system, warn health experts.

In the name Ganesh ‘Ga ’ symbolizes Buddhi (intellect) and ‘Na ’ symbolizes Vijnana ((wisdom) Ganesha is thus considered the master of intellect and wisdom.But by dumping our gods and godesses into our lakes and rivers, are we using ours?

The Murthi ’s plan to make lovely ganesh idols at home only with clay. Pandit Gobar Ganesh appeals to all its readers to get into the act and support the Muddy Murthi ’s in their efforts to have a green and safe festival season this year.Find out about similar initiatives in your city. Write to us and tell what you found out and did.


Let Ganesh have feet of clay...and everything else made of clay


E C O F R I E N D L Y   I D O L S 

New beginnings
Support the Green Ganesh initiatives in the country

MYSORE: The Centre for Appropriate Rural Technologies (CART) has launched a movement to make Ganesha festivities more environment-friendly as part of its “Clean Mysore” drive. The focus is on the immersion part of the festivities which bodes ill for the water bodies.

PUNE: As part of the Safe Festivals campaign being coordinated by Kalpavriksh Environment Group, eco sensitive idols have been developed for the festival this year. These idols that are made using unbaked clay, are painted with natural materials such as red earth and turmeric.∑Once the rituals are over, the idols can be immersed without the ornaments in a bucket of water and the solution can be safely drained into one's own garden.
For more information go to

HYDERABAD: The Jana Vignana Vedika (JVV) has been campaigning against the annual Ganesh idol immersion that is not only polluting the Hussainsagar lake in Hyderabad but also playing havoc with the health of Hyderabadis. 10,000 idols are immersed in the lake every year and with them, 7,000 tonnes of Plaster of Paris, 150 tonnes iron, 50 tonnes of wood besides dangerous substances like mercury, nickel, cadmium and turpentine oil that come laced with the colours of the idols too. “These pollutants over the decades have sunk into the groundwater system of the city.

Further, the lake water is let into the Musi, in whose surroundings vegetables for the city are grown and supplied,” JVV points out. The High Court has directed the government to take immediate action.

BANGALORE: The Lake development Authority in Bangalore has made special immersion provisions on the shore of the numerous tanks in the city. An awareness drive has been initiated to make people sensitive to the need to dispose of ganesh idols without endangering these water bodies


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