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I commit not to take part in any festivals/act that would damage the oceans/sea.

Good old India... The land of many cultures and religions.. so very obviously zillion festivals!!!... One amongst it being Ganesh Chaturti. ( A festival od Lord Ganesh)

Well.. i do not know the origin ,the history nor the purpose of behind this festival... but all i can say is that it is celebrated for 10 odd days and at the end of it... humongous idols (mind you, 100's of them) are immersed into the nearby seas and rivers as a part of the cultural tradition.

Traditionally, the Ganesh idol was sculpted out of earth taken from nearby one’s home. After worshipping the divinity in this earth idol, it was returned back to the Earth by immersing it in a nearby water body. This cycle represented the cycle of creation and dissolution in Nature.

However, as the production of Ganesh idols on a commercial basis grew, the earth or natural clay (shaadu maati in Marathi) was replaced by Plaster of Paris. Plaster is a man made material, easier to mould, lighter and less expensive than clay. However, plaster takes much longer to dissolve and in the process of dissolution releases toxic elements into the water body. The chemical paints used to adorn these plaster idols, themselves contain heavy metals like mercury and cadmium.

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.

The day after the immersion, shoals of dead fish can be seen floating on the surface of the water body as a result of this sudden increase.

Several non governmental and governmental bodies have been addressing this issue. Amongst the solutions proposed by various groups some are as follows:

Return to the traditional use of natural clay idols and immerse the idol in a bucket of water at home.

Use of a permanent idol 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 paper mache to create Ganesh idols.

Encouraging people to immerse the idols in tanks of water rather than in natural water bodies.

Considering the kind of population that inhabits India, measures like these, or rather talks like these fall on deaf ears. On one hand we have a bunch of people who are striving in every possible way to save the oceans and the seas and on the contrary we have a huge population who just walk over those efforts with the blink of an eye.. How do we ever bring an end to this problem?

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