Intensity of a particular social issue is felt differently by various people. For me, the issue of littering is very provocative. Irrespective of our religious orientations, whether we believe in God or not, the fact is that environment is the provider/creator and this anyway runs parallel to most definitions of God. When in the name of God, there can be fanatics of religion, why not of environment? And no doubt I’m charged up to write as the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is being celebrated.
As a general trend, people remorselessly throw wastes ranging from plastic wrappers, bottles, food, paper to even dead animals (am going to write about this specific example soon) wherever it pleases them! There is no distinction between the educated and uneducated in this matter.
Among those sensitive to this issue, I am sure you have faced a situation where friends in your group throw something on the road after snacking or from the car and you feel your blood boiling; occasionally, you pick it up hoping to embarrass them, though it rarely works. I remember stopping colleagues from throwing and instead carrying their waste all the way back home (elsewhere, dustbins are not a common sight).
What stings is that the act of littering is carried out so indifferently. It’s like shrugging off casually. For any given individual, the action looks insignificant. The severe ramifications are only seen at a macro level. Bad aesthetics are very obvious though. It’s actually hypocrisy when people rant about how “foreign” is kept spotlessly clean!! Yeah, UK might penalise if our dog shits on the street, but are we so bad that we need laws to control us? Why is it that education and even our families fail to imbibe the basic tenets of hygiene and civic sense? Or even if they do, why are they limited to the boundaries of our home?
Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra is GRAND – processions, pandals, cultural programmes, parties and of course food! Indeed, Ganpati bappa is one of our most adored deities. We welcome him with with great enthusiasm and spend amazing ten days with him during this festival. But it is a highly pressurising time for the environment (and the local body sanitary workers). It’s a horrible sight, especially on the last day, when the Ganesh idols are immersed in water. Alcohol bottles, rotten flowers, wet garbage, etc. are found liberally in every nook and corner. Lakes and seas are the worst sufferers. The filth is repealing. Is bidding adieu this way really respectable to God? Idols as huge as thirty feet are immersed along with all the adornments. It is terribly unpleasant to visit these sites after the festival. The garbage only cumulates every year.
Fortunately, many of us are turning more conscious. It is great to see eco-friendly (non plaster-of-paris) idols in the market. Organisations are making special arrangements for the “visarjan”. They have put up artificial tanks. Present along with them are separate containers for disposing “nirmalya” (the flowers and decorations). These are present in various localities so that even the issue of over-crowding is handled. This is optimistic. So, let’s cooperate and celebrate more beautifully.
Pictured below – the fate of our dear Lord after the festival…Hopefully, these visuals stay in our mind for the better. And for post-festival motivation, let’s remember the adage – Cleanliness is Godliness.
(Source – Pictures from Google Images)