BY FRAZER ANDRADE
India’s diverse population celebrates innumerable religious observances where the faithful try to offer their best in terms of creativity. Colourful décor has been an integral part of every Indian festival. This spectrum of colours, enhances the overall aesthetics of a place, making it look beautiful in addition to building a strong bond of love and friendship among the individuals involved in making the décor.
Our ancestors always strived towards beautifying a place during festivities but never was this done at the cost of destroying nature and polluting the environment. It is time everybody celebrating a festival, acts responsibly. Just look at the amount of plastic in different forms used as beautifying materials on occasions of feasts and zatras. Do we really need all the garbage we use to celebrate our faith in God?
What happens to the flex banners used in churches, temples and mosques, the cellophane streamers used on birthdays and feasts at religious places? Can’t we use paper instead of plastic? Can’t we use natural materials like palm leaves? For centuries, people have been using materials sourced from nature itself which would go back to the soil after their intended use. Why can’t we simply do the same?
Joshua Dias a youth from Fatorda, Margao, says that the joy of putting up a lantern during Diwali and a star during Christmas lights a spark of joy in our hearts, but little do we realize that we keep lowering that spark every time we use materials like plastic in the making of these articles.
The plastic used in these articles in the later stage piles up to become heaps of environmental hazardous waste, the consequences of which slowly turn into issues such as land pollution.
It is a beautiful practice of making a crib during Christmas. But why make it if you intend using thermocol and plastic? Once the Christmas season ends, the crib transforms into a burden on to nature. It is not surprising to see thermocol crib décor disposed of into road side bins or a plaster of Paris (POP) image of Lord Ganesha washed onto the shore, post the Ganesha celebrations.
Luke Conçeição Pereira, from Carmona, points out to the practice of lighting candles outside roadside crosses. However, seeing the faithful dispose of the candle wrappers around the cross they intend to venerate is disgusting, he adds in frustration.
We should be saying no to non-biodegradable materials like plastics and POP, while purchasing idols for worship and veneration. Goa at one time had several artists sculpting images from wood and stone. Taking a look around Goa today, the art of sculpture making, its makers and their craftsmanship is disappearing.
Diela Dias, an art lover from Fatorda, Margao, believes that a probable reason for loss in intricate detailing in artworks of today’s times could be that today the church emphasizes more on spirituality and pays less attention to beautification of religious buildings.
Lazar Fernandes, one of the few surviving Goan wood sculptors from Raia, mentions that he finds it extremely difficult to continue with his family occupation of making wooden sculptures as there is almost no demand for wooden sacred art and wood has almost completely been substituted by plastics.
Fernandes said that his family has been into wood sculpting since the last century and he has now taken over. His father, Pedro Antonio Costa Fernandes would sculpt with love and passion, he adds. Earlier they were restricted to carving Christian sculptures for churches, chapels and private homes, but today Lazaro is open to sculpt images of any faith.
He states that the wood generally used in sculpting is teak, shivann (Gmelina arborea) and jackfruit. Shivann is a light weight white wood and was generally used to build high altars and big statues in churches to reduce the weight. He states that rosewood and ebony was rarely used since it was hard to carve, heavy and costlier.
Joyce Aguiar e Carvalho, from Colva mentions that in Christianity the most commonly followed practice of doing away with old unwanted sacramentals is to burn them or bury them (this is ok as long as these were made of natural materials).
Today, the market is flooded with sacred art made of plastic. Have you ever thought of how you would dispose of damaged plastic statues? Would you burn them? Would you burry them? How could we even think of polluting and destroying His creation in His very name? ‘Now’ is the time to say no to plastic sacramentals and instead opt for wood or other natural materials by patronising traditional local craftsmen and opting for greener figures of God to keep at our homes.
This festive season, let us make a resolution to celebrate in a responsible manner keeping in mind the consequences of our actions. Together let us move towards brightening the spark of our festivities towards a safer, joyful and exciting times ahead.