” Sair Festival ” / Saja / Bada Din / Himachal Festivals, Festivals in Himachal Prdaesh
September 17 2015 Him Reporter 23 Highlights of Festival
The centuries old Sair festival is celebrated mainly in Shimla, Mandi, Kullu and Solan districts every year in mid-September and this year it is celebrated on 17 September 2015
Well known for the buffalo fight.
India is an exotic country where the festivals are observed with fun, frolic and devotion. Most of the Festivals of India are joyous and colorful. The Festivals of Himachal Pradesh reflects the customs and traditions of India.
The Sair Festival is celebrated with various cultural programs of music and dance. Numerous stalls are set up during the festival for selling and buying of various merchandise. The goods that are kept in the stalls ranges from garments, accessories, pottery and utensils.
Many of the festivals of the west had influenced the traditional Festivals of India. This Festival of Himachal Pradesh often reminds one of the bull fights that took place in Athens. But in the Sair Festival in Shimla unlike in ancient Greece, the common men can watch the fight between the beasts. This bull fighting show is accessible to the visitors to the fair in lieu of a minimal expense.
Festival of Sair in Shimla at Himachal Pradesh is a renowned all over the country for its liveliness and splendor. Himachal Pradesh with its numerous fairs and festivals glorifies the Indian customs and traditions, and one of them is Festival of Sair in Shimla at Himachal Pradesh.
Indian Festivals have a powerful western influence especially after the advent of the various conquerors like Alexander, Babur, Ibrahim Lodi and last but not the least, the British. They brought with them their cultures and the Indians imbibed their customs enthusiastically. So an amalgamation of the Indian and Western Cultures took place at a random pace for the past few centuries until the individual cultures were apparently indistinguishable. But the Buffalo Fight at the Festival of Sair Himachal Pradesh reminds one strongly of the Bull Fight of Athens in Sparta.
The Sair Festival at Himachal Pradesh is almost synonymous to the Bull Fight of Athens in Sparta. But there is a slight difference between these two. While in Athens the common men hardly ever got to see the grand spectacle, the story of Arki in Solan is much different. In Arki in Solan, the common men can enjoy the spectacular fight that ensues between the Beasts and that too at a reasonable price. This has only been made possible by the organizers of the Fair in Himachal Pradesh. Amidst extensive cultural programs like singing, dancing the Festival of Sair at Shimla in Himachal Pradesh is held.
Stalls are raised for buying and selling of goods. These stalls generally keep utensils, pottery, garments and accessories. People wear colorful costumes and bedeck themselves with expensive jewelry. They enjoy the Festival of Sair Himachal Pradesh to the fullest extent and also goes back home with a gift or two for their near and dear ones. Since fairs are the meeting ground for people, it offers entertainment and relaxation. The Fairs and Festival in India also offer an opportunity for the people of various class, religion and section to meet and exchange their ideas and goods. The Festival of Sair Himachal Pradesh is a memorable experience.
It is celebrated to mark the end of the crop harvest and also the rakhi thread are removed and offered to the mother sairi. The walnut and sweets are also offered to relatives and villagers with best wishes.
At some parts fairs are organized with beating of drums and blowing of trumpets in the belief of the God’s return from heaven.
Like a Spanish or Portuguese or Latin American spectacle, a bullfight held in many areas such as Arki in Solan and Mashobra in Shimla district.
The festival also includes purchase of utensils, clothes and cooking of special dishes.e.g. suhariyan, bhale, kachori, siddu, chille etc.
In some hilly areas villagers start stocking of food grains and firewood for the harsh winter days.
Even in modern times till the locals have not forgotten it and they still celebrate it with enthusiasm by participating in family meals and offering harvest crop to the god.
This is a Bara-Din (Big day) of the hillmen. Rich food is prepaired on the first day of the month and people worship their local deity for prosperous future.
The state of Himachal Pradesh is blessed in more ways than one. Its stunning landscape is a sight for sore eyes; whereas, the warm, hospitable people make a trip to Himachal Pradesh very special. Often referred to as the Abode of Clouds, it’s no secret that Himachal Pradesh is the perfect setting for numerous fairs and festivals.
The locals are as enterprising as they are hospitable and this makes any festival organized in this region very special. In the long list of festivals and fairs organized in Himachal Pradesh, one is the Sair Festival, which is organized in Shimla.
During the festival, the hosting region comes alive with all sorts of lights and sounds and the sensory experience is paramount.
The highlight of the fair is a unique buffalo fight. The Sair Festival boasts of a fantastic location and provides a unique foray into the lives of locals and their rich heritage. It provides a wonderful opportunity to soak in the enriching ambience as well as enjoy a unique macroscopic view of the Indian traditions and culture at the same place. Locals gather together and make all the arrangements for the festival which is organised at a grand scale and tourists from all over the country as well as numerous parts of the world gather every year to celebrate this festival.
The festival provides the perfect escape from the humdrum of daily life and locals find relief from the monotonous existence and partake in the festivities to celebrate life, colour and happiness. To celebrate the abundant natural beauty and the rich cultural heritage of Himachal Pradesh, the locals get together, form committees, organise this festival every year. Visitors, too, visit the region to partake in the festivities.
During the months of September, this astonishing festival is celebrated in Shimla and in Arki in Solan, right in lap of nature. The beautiful and exotic state of Himachal Pradesh is the best place to organize such festivals. A grand fair is part of the festivities during this time where visitors from various parts of the country gather together and indulge in various activities. Men and women, old and young, students and professionals, all sorts of people visit Shimla for the wondrous Sair Festival.
Keeping up with the tradition of all things grand, the Sair Festival in Himachal Pradesh is also celebrated on a huge scale. Thousands, even lakhs of people, visit the fair and enjoy the numerous offerings. People enjoy an extended vacation with their family, friends and other loved ones. They also relish the quiet hillside environment. Rejuvenating and refreshing, a trip to the Sair Festival is a lot more than just a visit to Shimla. It’s a whole experience in itself. The festival is celebrated on a grand scale. Various activities are part of the fair that is organized to celebrate this festival. Street plays, dances, songs, acrobatics, and games are all part of the festival and the fair. Stalls are set up and locals sell a variety of items especially designed keeping in mind the tourist populace that visits the valley for the Pori Festival.
While the festival is organized mostly in Shimla, at a close distance, in Arki in Solan, a special event is organised. On the lines of the bull fights of Athens, a special buffalo fight is organised. The difference between the events in Athens and that in India is that in India even the general public can be the audience after paying a small sun – a practice that is not employed in Athens where this event is only accessible to a select few. Arki in Solan where this event is organised, has abundant greenery and numerous kinds of flowering plants and the sheer beauty of the region is a real sight to behold.
The festival of Sair boasts of not just a fantastic location but also a foray into the lives of locals, especially the artists. Local craftsmen set up stalls to attract the tourists visiting the region and this works well for both the tourists who are on the lookout for traditional handicrafts and for the artists who are always in need of more opportunities. The festival enables a rich give and take, thus, of not just goods of all kinds, but also of ideas. The human spirit of generosity is visible during the various events at the Sair Festival.
Happy Ganesh Chaturthi 2015 on September 17
Know all about GANESH CHATURTHI
Ganesha Chaturthi (Gaṇēśa Caturthī or Vināyaka Caviti) is the Hindu festival celebrated in honour of the god Ganesha, the elephant-headed. The festival, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). The date usually falls between August and September. The festival usually lasts for 10 days, ending on Anant Chaturdashi (fourteenth day of the waxing moon period).
The modern festival involves installing clay images of Ganesha in public pandals (temporary shrines), which are worshipped for ten days. These are immersed at the end of the festival in a body of water such as a lake, along with the idol. Some Hindus also install the clay images of Ganesha in their homes. The festival was celebrated as a public event since the days of Maratha King Shivaji (1630–1680). However, the public festival as celebrated in Maharashtra today, was introduced by Bhausaheb Laxman Javale in 1892 by installing first Sarvajanik (Public) Ganesh idol- Shrimant Bhausaheb Rangari Ganpati, Bhudwar Peth, in Pune. The first meeting regarding starting the Sarvajanik Ganesh utsav took place under the leadership of Bhausaheb Laxman Javale at his residence (Bhudwar Peth) now known as Bhau Rangari Bhavan. In 1893 Lokmanya Tilak praised the concept of Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav in Kesari Newspaper. In 1894, he installed Ganesh idol in Kesari wada, Pune too and started preaching Ganesh Utsav.
While celebrated all over India, it is grandest and most elaborate of them especially in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Odisha and in other parts of Western India and Southern India. Outside India, it is celebrated widely in Terai region of Nepal and by the Hindu diaspora in the United States, Canada, Mauritius, and other places.
Legend of Ganesha
Main article: Ganesha
A traditional legend about Ganesha’s birth is that Parvati, the consort of Shiva, created Ganesha out of mala (dirt) off her body while having a bath and breathed life into the figure. She then set him the task of guarding her door while she bathed. Shiva, who had gone out, returned and as Ganesha didn’t know him, didn’t allow him to enter. After the combat between Ganesha and Shiva Ganas, finally angry Shiva severed the head of the child. Parvati seeing this became enraged and Shiva then promised that her son will be alive again. The devas searched for the head of a dead person facing North, but they found only the head of an elephant. They brought the head of the elephant and Shiva fixed it on the child’s body and brought him back to life. Lord Shiva also declared that from this day the boy would be called Ganesha (Gana Isha : Lord of Ganas).
According to the Linga Purana, Ganesha was created by Shiva and Parvati at the request of the devas (divine beings) to be a vighnakartaa (obstacle-creator) in the path of rakshasas (demonic beings), and a vighnahartaa (obstacle-averter) to help the devas.
The festival is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi, the fourth lunar day of the waxing moon fortnight. The date usually falls between August and September. The festival lasts for 10 to 12 days, ending on Anant Chaturdashi.
Celebration, rituals and tradition
Weeks or even months before Ganesha Chaturthi, artistic clay models of Lord Ganesha are made for sale by skilled artisans. They are beautifully decorated and depict Lord Ganesha in vivid poses. The size of these statues may vary from 3/4 of an inch to over 70 feet.
Ganesha Chaturthi starts with the installation of these Ganesha statues in colorfully decorated homes and specially erected temporary structures mandapas (pandals) in every locality. The pandals are erected by collecting monetary contributions and are decorated specially for the festival, by using decorative items like flower garlands, lights, etc. and at times have theme based decorations.
The priest then with the chanting of mantras invokes the presence of Ganesha using the statue as a channel, or body for his energy. This ritual is the Pranapratishhtha. After this the ritual called as Shhodashopachara (16 ways of paying tribute) follows. Coconut, jaggery, modaks, durva (trefoil) blades of grass and red flowers are offered. The statue is anointed with red unguent, typically made of kumkum and sandalwood paste. Throughout the ceremony, Vedic hymns from the Rig Veda, the Ganapati Atharvashirsa, Upanishad, and the Ganesha stotra from the Narada Purana are chanted.
The festival is celebrated in Maharashtra in the home, as well as publicly by local community groups.
Celebration at Home
Ganesh Chaturthi is an important festival of Maharashtra. It is celebrated by most Hindu households of Maharashtra. In Maharashtra, most Hindu families install their own small clay statues for worship on Ganesh Chaturthi. The idol is worshiped in every morning and evening until the departure. The worship involves various offerings to the idol including flowers and durva. Each durva bunch has 21 shoots and the shoots have either three or five strands. Other offerings like modak also have to number 21 in Ganesh worship, The daily worship ceremonies ends with the worshipers singing the Aarti in honor of Ganesh, other Gods and saints. The Ganesh aarti sung in Maharashtra was composed by the 17th century, saint Samarth Ramdas. As per the tradition of their respective families, the domestic celebrations come to an end after 1, 3, 5, 7 or 11 days when the statue is taken in a procession to a large body of water such as a lake, river or the sea for immersion. Due to environmental concerns, a number of families now avoid the large water bodies and instead let the clay statue disintegrate in a bucket or tub of water at home. After a few days the clay is used in the home garden. In some cities, a public eco-friendly process is used for immersion.
Public celebrations of the festival are hugely popular especially in Maharashtra. These are organised by local youth groups (Tarun Mandal), neighborhood associations or group of traders. An example of the latter is the celebrations organized by the vegetable market traders in Pune. The Mandai Ganpati as it is called has been installed every year since the 1890s. The funds for the public festival are collected from members of the association arranging the celebration, local residents or local businesses. The Ganesh and accompanying statues are installed in temporary shelter called mandap or pandals. The local Festival Committees vie with each other to put up the biggest statue and the best pandal. The festival is also the time for cultural activities like singing and theater performances, orchestra and community activities like free medical checkup, blood donation camps, and charity for the poor.
Today, the Ganesh Festival is not only a popular festival, it has become a very critical and important economic activity for Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai. Many artists, industries, and businesses earn a significant amount of their living from this Festival. Ganesh Festival also provides a stage for budding artists to present their art to the public. In Maharashtra, not only Hindus but many other religions also participate in the celebration like Muslims, Jains, Christian and others.
Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chaturthi is one of the most important festivals in Karnataka. Traditionally, it is celebrated by almost each and every household. The Gowri festival preceding the Ganesha Chaturthi is also part of the celebrations, with people across the state of Karnataka wishing each other on the auspicious Gowri – Ganesha Habba (festival). Beautiful idols of Lord Ganesha are installed in almost every household and worshipped with great devotion for 1,3,5,10 and in some cases 21 days. Flower decorations for the mantapa in addition to the special banana leaves at the sides of the mantapa, mango leaves that form the torana, special garlands made of Kadubu and fruits are the highlights of the festival. Modaka, laddoos, kadubu or karanjis are the specialities offered to Lord Ganesha. It is part of the festivities especially for young children to visit as many houses in their neighbourhood to have the darshan of Ganapathi seated and revered by respective families. As in other places, the idols are immersed in water bodies which marks the culmination of the festival.
Andhra Pradesh & Telangana
Khairtabad Ganesh,One of the tallest Ganesh Idols in India
In Andhra Pradesh, Clay Ganesh (Matti Vinayakudu in Telugu) and Turmeric Ganesh (Siddhi Vinayakudu in Telugu) is usually worshipped at homes along with plaster of paris Ganesha.As per the tradition of their respective families, the domestic celebrations come to end an end after 1,3,5,7 or 11 days. In Telangana Hyderabad city, majority of the idols are taken to Tank Bund Road and immerse in Hussain sagar. 11th day celebrations at Tank Bund Road takes entire night and fills the area with enormous crowd immersing various kinds of Ganesh idols. People comes from all over India to witness these celebrations.Khairtabad Ganesh is one of the tallest and most famous idols in India. Balapur Ganesh idol is well known for its Laddu.
Ganesh Chaturthi is also celebrated in Tamil Nadu. Here it is known as vinayakachaturthi or pillayar chaturthi and the festival falls on the fourth day after new moon in the month of aavani. On this day Ganesh idols made of clay are worshipped in all homes. It is known as kaliman pillayar. Ganesh is decorated with garlands and Bermuda grass known asarukampul(அருகம்புல் ) in Tamil. Modak, ladoo and other dishes are offered to Ganesha. People throng Ganesh temples all day. Famous Ganesh temples in the state will be decked up with devotees all day. Large Ganesh idols are installed in public places in the state particularly in Chennai and the idols are not usually more than 13 feet high. Idols are usually made of clay and Papier-mâché, since plaster of paris idols are banned by the state government. In many places idols are made of coconuts and other organic products. The idols are worshipped for some days in pandals and are immersed in the Bay of Bengal the following Sunday. The Tamil Nadu police department makes elaborate arrangements for the festival. Ganesh chaturthi has become one of the major festivals in Tamil Nadu especially Chennai
Ganesh idol in salem, Tamil Nadu
Ganesh Chathurthi is also celebrated in the state of Kerala, where it is known as Vinyakha Chathurthi or Lamboodhara Piranalu. The festival falls in the month of Chingam, and people worship idols of Ganesha and do milk abhishekam. Temples are very crowded and people give for nivedeyam. There are fairs in each locality which includes concerts, dancing and skits. In the city of Thiruvananthapuram, a grand procession is held from the Pazhavangadi Ganapathi temple to the Shankumugham beach with tall statues of Ganesh made of organic items and milk which are immersed into the sea. Elephant worship is also widely practiced across Kerala. In the temples peoples break thousands of coconuts for removing sins. Grand feasts are given to people after nivedyam. Streets are decorated with flowers and rangolis.
Ganesh Chaturthi is the most popular and extravagant festival celebrated by the Hindu Goans. Locally known as Chavath in Konkani(Devanagari:चवथ, Romi lipi:Chovoth)and is also known as Parab(Parva, or an auspicious celebration). Preparations begin a month before, and the actual festivities begin on the third day of lunar month of Bhadrapada. On this day Haritalika or Gauri with Shiva is worshiped by women, which also includes fasting. On the day of festival, elaborate Pujas and feasts are organised, Arati is one of the major attraction of the festivities. Many instruments which are unique to Goa like Ghumot, Shamel, and other classical instruments such as cymbals, Pakhawaj etc. are played. Decorations, fireworks, gifts, and sweets play a major role during the festivities.Harvest festival known as Navyachi Pancham is celebrated on the next day, newly harvested paddy is ceremoniously brought home from the fields or temples(where Puja is held on a community level) and a Puja is conducted.Those communities that eat seafood refrain from it while the domestic Ganesh celebrations last.Most of the idols are immersed either in the sea, rivers or tanks and wells on the second day, whereas some places festivities may run for five, seven, nine or eleven days.
Ganesh Chaturthi has a long history in Goa, which predates the Kadamba era. Goa Inquisition had banned all the Hindu festivals, and heavy restrictions were imposed on the Hindus who did not convert to Christianity. However Goans continued to practice their culture. Many families worship Ganesha in the form of Patri(leaves used for worshiping Ganesha or any other deity), a picture drawn on paper, small silver idols, or in some households Ganesha idols are even hidden, this is a remarkable thing about Ganesh festival in Goa.The reason for this was, ban on clay Ganesha idols, or festivities as a part of Inquisition of the Jesuits, many families have still kept the tradition alive. Another striking feature about Chavath of Goa is, unlike Maharashtra, it’s more a family affair, and is a very sentimental for the Goans. It’s generally a celebration of the joint family, some families of 1000 or more members, still celebrate the festival together with great fanfare in their ancestral homes.Many such families are found in Goa.Goan Catholics also take part in the festivities in many places.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in the UK by the migrant Hindu population as well as the large number of Indians residing there. The Hindu culture and Heritage Society, UK – a Southall based organisation celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi for the first time in London in 2005 at The Vishwa Hindu Temple. The Idol was immersed in the river Thames at Putney Pier. Another celebration organised by an Gujarati group has been celebrated in the Southend-on-Sea which attracts over 18000 devotees. Annual celebrations also take place on the River Mersey at Liverpool.
The festival is similarly celebrated in many locations across the world. The Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA, an organisation of Hindus based in the US organises many such events to mark the Hindu festivals.
In USA, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated by various associations of people from India. (Various Indian Associations of North America and in Temples across USA.)
The Philadelphia Ganesh popularly known as PGF is the largest Sarvajanik (fully contributed by public funds) Hindu festival in North America. Since 2005 the festival is conducted every year in Bharatiya Temple, Chalfont, Pennsylvania. The 10 days are marked by processions, devotional programs, cultural events, India filmi-orchestra and a weekend carnival. While the Marathi community plays a big role in organising the festival, participation from all communities such as Gujarati, Kannadiga, Tamil, Malayali, Telugu, North Indian, Bengali etc. is seen as the reason for its success and uniqueness.
In Canada, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated by associations of Marathi-speaking people. (MBM in Toronto, MSBC in Vancouver, etc.)
Celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi in Mauritius dates back to 1896. The first Ganesh Chaturthi Puja was held in the 7 Cascades Valley next to Henrietta village by the Bhiwajee family who is still celebrating this pious festival after more than a century. Over the years the festival gained such popularity on the island that Mauritian government has attributed a public holiday for that day.
In Malaysia and Singapore, the festival is more commonly known as Vinayagar Chakurthi because of the relatively larger Tamil-speaking Hindu minority among the other South Asian ethnic groups. It is very common to see pictures or statues of Lord Ganesha at the entrance of homes, business premises and schools. These idols are usually decorated with flower garlands alongside offerings of fruits and sweets. Most Ganesha temples mark Vinayagar Chaturthi with morning prayers, abhishegam (ritual bathing of the deity) and free vegetarian lunch for devotees and the poor. Chariot processions organised by Ganesha temples in the evenings often attract huge crowds of devotees and tourists.
The main sweet dish during the festival is the modak (modak in Marathi, modakam/kudumu in Telugu, modaka/kadubu in Kannada, kozhakatta/modakkam in Malayalam and kozhukattai/modagam in Tamil). A modak is a dumpling made from rice flour/wheat flour with a stuffing of fresh or dry-grated coconut, jaggery, dry fruits and some other condiments. It is either steam-cooked or fried. Another popular sweet dish is the karanji (karjikai in Kannada) which is similar to the modak in composition and taste but has a semicircular shape.
In Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, modakkam (rice flour dumplings stuffed with coconut and jaggery mixture), Laddu, Vundrallu (steamed coarsely grounded rice flour balls), Panakam (jaggery, black pepper and cardamom flavored drink), Vadapappu (soaked and moong lentils), “Chalividi” (cooked rice flour and jaggery mixture), etc., are offered to Ganesha along with Modakams. These offerings to god are called Naivedyam in Telugu. Traditionally, the plate containing the Modak is filled with twenty-one pieces of the sweet.
It is not known when and how Ganesh Chaturthi was first celebrated. Ganesh festival was being celebrated as a public event in Pune since the times of Shivaji (1630–1680), the founder of the Maratha Empire. The Peshwas, the de facto hereditary administrators of the Empire from 1749 till its end in 1818, encouraged the celebrations in their administrative seat Pune as Ganesha was their family deity (Kuladevata). With the fall of the Peshwas, Ganesh festival lost state patronage and became a private family celebration again in Maharashtra till its revival by Indian freedom fighter and social reformer Lokmanya Tilak.
The public festival as celebrated in Maharashtra today, was introduced by Bhausaheb Laxman Javale in 1892 by installing first Sarvajanik (Public) Ganesh idol. This followed a meeting at his residence, which was attended by, amongst others, Balasaheb Natu, and Krishnajipant Khasgiwale. Khasgiwale on his visit to the Maratha ruled princely state of Gwalior had seen the tradition of public celebration still maintained and brought it to the attention of his friends in Pune. In 1893 Lokmanya Tilak praised the concept of Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav in his newspaper, Kesari, and the next year he installed a Ganesh idol in Kesari Wada too. Tilak’s efforts transformed the annual domestic festival into a large, well-organized public event. Tilak recognized the wide appeal of the deity Ganesha as “the god for everybody”, and popularized Ganesh Chaturthi as a national festival in order “to bridge the gap between Brahmins and ‘non-Brahmins’ and find a context in which to build a new grassroots unity between them”, and generate nationalistic fervour among people in Maharashtra against the British colonial rule. Tilak was the first to install large public images of Ganesh in pavilions, and also established the practice of submerging the idols in rivers, sea, or other pools of water on the tenth day after Ganesh Chaturthi.
Under Tilak’s encouragement, the festival facilitated community participation and involvement in the form of intellectual discourses, poetry recitals, performances of plays, musical concerts, and folk dances. It served as a meeting ground for people of all castes and communities in times when, in order to exercise control over the population, the British discouraged social and political gatherings.
The most serious impact of the festival on the environment is due to the immersion of idols made of Plaster of Paris into lakes, rivers and the sea. Traditionally, the idol was sculpted out of mud taken from nearby one’s home. After the festival, it was returned to the Earth by immersing it in a nearby water body. This cycle was meant to represent the cycle of creation and dissolution in Nature.
However, as the production of Ganesh idols on a commercial basis grew, the earthen or natural clay (shaadu maati in Marathi and banka matti in Telugu) was replaced by Plaster of Paris. Plaster is a man-made material, easier to mould, lighter and less expensive than clay. However, plaster is non-biodegradable, and insoluble in water. Moreover, the chemical paints used to adorn these plaster idols themselves contain heavy metals like mercury and cadmium, causing water pollution. Also, on immersion, non-biodegradable accessories that originally adorned the idol accumulate in the layers of sand on the beach.
In the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Radio Jaagriti, the leading Hindu radio station in the country, has actively educated the public of the environmental implications of the use of plaster of Paris murtis. Clay Lord Ganeshas have been encouraged to be used for immersion into the water courses to prevent any harmful environmental impacts. Ganesh Chaturthi is a widely celebrated Hindu Festival in Trinidad and Tobago.
In Goa, the sale of Ganesh idols made from Plaster of Paris (PoP) is banned by the State Government. People are urged to buy traditional clay idols made by artisans.
Recently there have been new initiatives sponsored by some state governments to produce clay Ganesha idols.
On the final day of the Ganesh festival thousands of plaster idols are immersed into water bodies by devotees. These increase the level of acidity in the water and the content of heavy metals. Several non-governmental and governmental bodies have been addressing this issue. Amongst the solutions proposed are as follows:
Return to the traditional use of natural clay idols and immerse the icon in a bucket of water at home.
Use of a permanent icon made of stone and brass, used every year and a symbolic immersion only.
Recycling of plaster idols to repaint them and use them again the following year.
Ban on the immersion of plaster idols into lakes, rivers and the sea.
Creative use of other biodegradable materials such as papier-mâché to create Ganesha idols.
Encouraging people to immerse the idols in tanks of water rather than in natural water bodies.
To handle religious sentiments sensitively, some temples and spiritual groups have taken up the cause.
Happy Sair & Ganesh Chaturthi
Him Reporter compilation .