Rajendra P Kerkar
The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi marks the worship of the clay idol of the elephant-headed god through the seasonal floral diversity available in the vicinity.
However, with the onset of industrialisation and introduction of plastic, thermocol, rubber and various types of cheaply available alternatives, devotees have been using these non-biodegradable materials to decorate Ganapati at home.
But, after the celebration is over, many of these non-biodegradable materials are found in water bodies as well as thrown by the roadside, thus polluting and degrading the environment.
Through the Environment Protection Act of 1986, emphasis on curtailment of the use of non-biodegradable materials, people were found making use of these items while decorating and installing the idol of the lord in the house. Environmentalists throughout Goa, every year, urge the people to observe the festival in eco-friendly ways.
Suryakant Gaonkar, who resides at the foothills of the Western Ghats, has been using only biodegradable materials for decorating Ganapati for the last one decade.
This year, he and his family too followed the eco-friendly way of decorating Ganapati only at the residence and on request of organisers has used eco-friendly decorations in Sanvordem for Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav.
Yogesh Vishnu Kauthankar, art teacher, Velguem
Yogesh Vishnu Kauthankar, art teacher of Shrimati High school, Velguem of Bicholim, at his residence in Mayem, used lush green leaves, bamboo and other locally available elements for decoration.
When contacted, he said, "There is an urgent need to create awareness about the massive use of plastic, thermocol and other non-biodegradable materials."
Ganapati is the son of Parvati, the earth's mother goddess. By worshipping clay idols, our ancestors expressed gratitude to nature.
Datta Naik of Priol, Ponda, always uses environment-friendly materials for Ganapati decoration at his residence. Every year, he uses seasonal paddy in his Matoli decoration.
There was once a tradition of offering the first fruit of the season to Ganapati and that the usage of paddy in Matoli. Naik has learnt the skill and is making efforts to revive the traditional wisdom which fading into oblivion.
In Goa, in the past, people made use of the pseudo-stem of banana, wood, bark, and leaves of trees, creepers and other biodegradable materials for decoration.