After Ganesh Festival 

Ten days of festivities are celebrated with lot of fanfare during the Ganesh festival, Ganesh Chaturthi, before very ceremoniously immersing the Lord Ganesh into our water bodies across most parts of India. What after that? Who will do the clean-up? Sonali Maniar,  from Banglore in India, not only says it, but joins a handful of people along with her son, who do something about it! Here she writes to us giving the details-

Dear desideewar,

Year after year, we see the ugly sight of all the beheaded gods in the water after the festival has passed. Beheaded Ganeshas; hands; feet along with peoples chappals, styrofoam cups, thermocol decorations, rotting garlands; long pieces of fabric... all of that ends up in the lake. This year, when my neighbour Pallavi initiated the idea of cleaning up the lake, Kahaan and I were happy to go and lend a hand.

We met on a sunday morning. It was a very small group of just 3 ladies & 2 kids and we worked for around 2-3 hours and collected around 10 bags of trash. We separated the garbage into paper & plastic. We were too tired to go on since there were huge statues in the water and lots more to do.

So, we met again this saturday. This time we were 2 men; 3 ladies & 2 kids (considering that our community has more than 1000 people, I was sad that more folks hadn't volunteered to help). Our builder, Adarsh sent along a tractor-trailer along with a crew of 8-10 workers to help us. They were the ones doing a lot of the heavy lifting.

After 3-4 hours, we had filled 3 full trailers of garbage!!

This is just one such lake in Bangalore. There are so many more and I'm not sure if the govt. takes any action. This lake is small and is in the middle of our neighbourhood where we can take action without involving the authorities. I'm really not sure what goes on in other places.

I for one am not willing to do another massive clean-up next year. So, I hope that before the festival, we can arrange large garbage bins at the lake-side where the villagers would segragate the flowers, fabric, thermacol etc. and it doesnt get dumped in the lake. We will also have to involve Kannada speaking residents to come forward to volunteer and explain to the villagers what needs to be done. Would also like to put up some posters showing what to do. Kids can definitely help out in the spreading of awareness & in the actual cleaning up. Awareness prior to the festival is needed. People should be encouraged to use clay idols rather than those made from Plaster of Paris (which doesn't dissolve in water).

My neighbour Pallavi Singh has written an article about this lake. Here is an exerpt:

Ganesha Festival – A big cause of pollution of the lake waters is the immersion of huge statues of Ganesha during the ten days of Ganesha festival. Big plaster of paris statues of Ganesha are immersed in the lake and huge amounts of other litter like thermocol, plastic, decoration items, flowers, leaves, other organic waste and ‘puja’ articles in plastic bags etc, litter the lakeside. Colors used in the statues have harmful chemicals like lead, mercury, cadmium etc., which contaminate the water and can kill fish, frogs and birds that feed on them.

Hope this gives your readers some insight into the problem. Ours is just one such instance in a much larger problem.

Regards, Sonali Maniar

Owner, Templetree - the paper boutique 

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