Thursday, September 17, 2009


Let’s applaud the Puja committees for going green

While nations and global corporations keep grappling with the concerns of environmental degradation and the resulting social costs attached with it, interestingly, Durga Puja, one of the biggest celebrations of Bengal, is all set to gradually transform itself into an eco-friendly affair. Though traditionally, most festivals in India never promoted or encouraged the use of pollutants or environment-unfriendly products. But with the arrival of cheap plastic alternatives, plaster of paris and chemical based paints, the whole age-old practice of environmental friendly clay and straw had taken a backseat. Today in most parts of the country, festivals are dotted with plastic decorative materials and idols made and decorated with toxic substance. This not only is against the traditional method of festives but also has huge environmental implications.

But then this time West Bengal is determined to go green with respect to Durga Puja! Though it is not surprising, simply because, since years now various Durga Puja committees in Bengal have been trying to send across social awareness messages through this mega event. So if one travels through the beeline of Durga Puja pandals in West Bengal, they not only are audience to creatively designed pandals and life-size idols — from Potter’s Hogwart Castle to White House- almost every happening event’s replica can be found here — but amidst all this creatively glamorous pandals, one can also find socially relevant messages. In accordance to the same, many priests (since last two years) have been promoting eco-friendly Durga Puja pandals. A few priest associations have gone all the way to ban the use of plastic objects like plastic garlands, plastic plates among other things, in the puja and its vicinity and are preferring a way back to traditional and natural puja items. Further on, to address the issue of immersion of idols – which poses a great threat to our water bodies and aqua-culture, many committees are using environment friendly and bio-degradable materials like clay and natural paints instead of plastic, plaster of paris and lead based paints.

That’s just one side of it. Many Puja committees are talking about global warming and how they can help in arresting the greenhouse gas emissions. A number of Durga Puja committees have made issues like greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and global warming as themes for their pandals. Many pandals in Kolkata have environment protection as theme and they concentrate on the need to turn green and discourage industrial emission, vehicular pollution and deforestation. Extending their part, they are opting for solar energy, energy-efficient lamps and solar lanterns for decoration and illumination.

Last year even the state government requested the puja committees to reduce polluting the environment and organised events that facilitated and awarded green initiative. This year, even a Green Theme award is under consideration. The authority and 'Green-body' are framing guidelines that will talk about environment- friendly and bio-degradable materials to be used while decorating pandals. Though, if one looks at it, it might relatively look like a tiny initiative, but we have to consider the rampant and blatant environmental abuse that is happening globally. It is also a possibility that this initiative might get lost under the dazzle of lights and glitz. But then what is inspiring is the efforts that these committees are putting to create awareness in their own way!



  1. Lets pray it does and so does all of the industrial sector...but we should also stay away from Copenhegan treaty for the next half a century....

    Umesh Mishra

  2. I think what could be the better way than this one, when we celebrate such festivals and pray the God for a bigger cause and nurture and spread awareness about environment and its degradation.