Coming in 2011 though a lot has changed, still Ganpati festive times are probably the best days in this very city of Pune which at a times is even bigger than Diwali! As the whole city gets ready shrugging the monsoon drops away & possesses a new fresh look giving signs of festive mood ahead & which continues till New Year ! The nature also has changed of the festival about which a lot has been talked, the budget along with the programs have soured to new high. No longer it’s just a stage for the Mohalla or the Galli kids but now its celebrities & big banners which define a mandal. Now the Ganpati mandal is mentioned by the set & not by its programs or participation's in the same. Even look at the immersion procession i.e. the Mirawnuk & what we see? Walls of speakers, members of the mandals dancing with all zataka mataka, loads of Gullal & heavy lighting on statue carrying vehicle! I wonder by which definition it can be called as Eco friendly! Some mandal's may be exception but this is in general scene, not just in Pune but mostly in all cities around us. Also the common man is drifting away from the festival except to visit the different mandals as spectator of the sets they have erected. Its no longer is seen as a platform where all classes of the society share the stage & perform, giving room for each others skills to grow. Since last few years come Ganpati times & we find numbers of write ups & appeals for making the Ganesh festival Eco friendly! And we find the competition for Eco friendly ganesh mandal etc. No doubt its need of the time but are we understanding the practicality of the issue rightly or its just one more fad of applying Eco friendly tag to everything we do?
Ganesh festival is probably the best platform to make people aware about various aspects of environment. Eco friendly Ganapati doesn't mean just to curtail noise as well river pollution by not using hi peach speakers or not using Gulal or not submersing the all nirmalya in river nor just avoiding use of Plaster of Paris or Thermokol But it means using this platform at fullest for the cause of environment. We are thinking of reducing the damage but we are forgetting to use the power of this festival to reach out to the people for spreading the message about environmental conservation.
One can always display the posters/ banners about biodiversity conservation in & around the pendol. We can arrange various programs about environment instead going for DJ's or some conventional programs like orchestras. Also we can display CD or sound clips about awareness regarding environmental issues in & around the city at background for ten days in the pendol instead some loud music. Give pamphlets to the visitors about Eco awareness & various means by which we can participate in the cause. There are hundreds of NGO’s, Institutions which keeps on doing better things for the society but very few are known to the common man, using the platform of festival we can share this information with the people. Right from printing such information in Warshik Ahaval ( yearly report), instead photographs of celebrities to print their names & works on the back side of receipts a lot can be done. A simple information like names of Sarpamitra i.e. Snake friends in the locality can be printed as many a even don’t know what to do if a snake is seen in the house & whom they should call. Many a times I get call from my friends about they have found an injured bird in their back yard & what should they do to save it? Then I give them Katraj snake parks authorities’ number & things move. Living in protected urban life we have forgotten our exposure with nature & this festival can be a good tool to give us back that exposure.
The mandal's can arrange various competitions right from debating to painting with focus of subjects around nature & biodiversity & try to involve as many school/college students we can. These paintings can make a good display in & around the pendol for creating awareness amongst the visitors & a good exposure for the artists who have painted them. Similarly we can arrange for photography competitions with photographs covering various problems around us in the city which can include right from the road pot holes to reducing tree cover around.
We need to revive our earlier days & make the festival a real mass base & try to get along as many segments of the society we can, making it a real social event. After all what we mean by Eco friendliness? Its a life style where all segments of the society can enjoy the event at peace & real joy & which one needs to adopt not for just the ten days but all around the year! And this is what a Ganesh festival should make us experience us then only we can call it as Eco friendly! And for that as the wise man has said we need to make our self aware about the cause then only we can make our genre next more responsible for the same! The day we will be able to do that I think that day we will be more proud & deserving to welcome the Bappa !
Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune
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