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Ganesh Chaturthi is one of most magnificent festivals celebrated with stupendous zeal and grandeur in the western part of the country. Lakhs and lakhs of Ganesh idols are immersed in the sea as a religious ritual

In the ardour and splendour of celebrating this iconic festival, most people conveniently forget the hazardous impact the immersion of idols has on the environment. The grandeur of this festival might be irresistible, but the damage it inflicts on us is irreparable! A large section of society is unaware of the pollution these chemical-made idols bring to the sea water. Ganesha idols are made using highly corrupt materials like Plaster of Paris and other chemical paints which contain good amounts of mercury and lead. It takes several months for these idols to completely dissolve in the water while they continue to poison the water bodies in contact.

The purpose of celebrating Shree Ganesh Chaturthi is to express our gratitude unto Shree Ganesh. Instead, many people celebrate this festival just as a family custom or as a social event.

In the past decades, the idol of Shree Ganesh was made of clay; however, with the advent of new materials like Plaster of Paris (PoP), cement, paper etc. the idol does not dissolve completely in the water after the immersion.

People select idols made of PoP because it is less expensive; however, PoP idols attract very less Shree Ganesh principle. When the idols made from PoP are immersed in the water, they do not dissolve completely. Due to this, the remains of the idol are collected by the local government body and demolished under bulldozer. This is a grave insult and denigration of Shree Ganesh.

In Hindu Dharma, every aspect of our day to day life has spiritual significance. All the festivals are celebrated for the purpose of remembering God, attracting the sattvikta, developing devotion unto God, etc. We can derive the spiritual benefits only if these festivals are celebrated according to the spiritual science.

Possible solutions:

Since the main issue around water pollution has got to do with the idol immersion ritual, several people are now suggesting a slight variation of this ritual to avoid water pollution. These include:

1. Immersing the idol in a water tan constructed by the government, instead of directly into natural water bodies.
2. Using only a natural clay idol and immersing it either in the tank or in a bucket of water at home.
3. Immersing a 'betel nut' which symbolises the idol and reusing the same idol every year.
4. If one is using a PoP idol, simply sprinkling a few drops of water on it as a symbolic immersion and donating the idol to be recycled for the following year.

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