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Do not pollute rivers after festive season is over

Fall in love with rivers and save fresh water source.

Deepa Gupta | New Delhi |

Fresh water is necessary for the survival of all living organisms. It is not only a precious substance but it is life! Being an integral part of many ecosystems that support us, it is far beyond quenching thirst. Besides drinking, it is used in irrigation of crops, cooking, cleaning, and bathing.

Rivers are the primary source which carry fresh water to areas all around the earth. They play a crucial role in water cycle. Also, having great cultural, spiritual and economic significance, they are considered to be the lifeline especially in developing countries like India. In Hinduism they enjoy a special place in prayers and traditional practices.

In India, rivers are extremely important for irrigation and people living on the banks use it for their daily needs such as bathing and fishing. These rivers supply a cheap and easy way to travel. Many hydro power projects are made on the rivers. They drive tourism industry also. Despite of all these good things, state of our rivers is pitiful today. River water is getting polluted across the states. We need to save this fresh water source at any cost. It involves coordinated and cooperative action in order to maintain quality of river water effectively.

Charity begins at home, truly said! Everyone should take individual initiative to avoid water pollution and save rivers. Each one of us needs to be educated and then take corrective actions in clean river drive. We create water pollution in the name of traditional value of many festivals. Diwali is the biggest festival of India and the five-day long festival brightens the country with lights, music, cultural events and food stalls serving delicacies. Marked by a number of puja rituals, immersion of Ganesha-Lakshmi idols and other puja samagri has raised the concern over the pollution of rivers. This happens mainly because there is a lack of proper spiritual waste management in the country. People all over the country immerse statues of deities and other puja material like pots, flowers, diyas and ashes in rivers. Most of the rituals make it mandatory for people to use rivers as a vital component. The material used in making the statues of the deities used in puja is not environment friendly. They only add pollution in the rivers. The discharge of toxic material in water has a deleterious effect on this water resource. There is not a single river left in the country without pollution. River Ganges and Yamuna are the most revered but the most polluted rivers in the country. They are the focal point to immerse puja waste after performing rituals on any festival or occasion.

Although, people are being made aware of ecological, environmental and cultural values through various channels. However, it is not easy to change people’s mentality overnight. The government needs to provide alternatives which serve the dual purpose of not hurting people’s belief and emotions and simultaneously rivers should not get polluted. It may include creating space to dump puja waste, ensuring regulatory control on the production and selling of hazardous puja material containing chemicals. No doubt, the government has over the years made efforts to tackle the problem but a lot needs to be done.

If you believe god created rivers, isn’t it your utmost responsibility to protect them. Celebrate a safer environmental friendly Diwali every year. Conscious buying of puja and ritual material will increase the charm of this vibrant festival.

Keep few things in mind while going to shop the things required while performing Diwali rituals:

Promote the use of natural dyes while making idols and other decorative things. Discourage toxic based chemical paints on lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi idols. Water soluble and non-toxic natural dyes should be encouraged to paint everything.

In recent times, certain eco-friendly materials have taken over baked clay, gypsum and plaster of Paris which had been the predominant material used to carve the idols of the deities. Use idols made of soluble clay. Also, before the immersion of the idols, materials like flowers, clothes and other decorative adornments should be removed.

Do not deck up your puja place with decorations made of thermocol and plastic. Instead use wooden planks, coconut shells, bamboo, cloth, jute, hay, straw, cane or paper made decorations.

The organic waste such as flowers and leaves should be used to produce compost for the garden or recycled for other purposes.

Use paper plates, banana leaves or clay plates while performing puja ceremonies.

Use natural home-made agarbattis, incense sticks, kumkum and dhoop. Non eco-friendly things bear harmful substances. These chemicals effect the water of rivers which are the major source of drinking water.

Convey a message to the society that there are organic substances that are better than materials which appear attractive but they are harmful to be immersed in the rivers. Adopt a healthy way and encourage quality of life for not only yourself but for future generations too. The alarming thing is that India will only have half the water it needs by 2030. We need to protect this fresh water resource.

Diwali is the most popular festival in India which is celebrated enthusiastically every year. Though, it spreads a lot of happiness, people forget to take care of rivers after the festivity is over. Pledge not to immerse the festivity waste material in rivers and be a proud citizen.

Negligence result in pollution of all kinds, save water pollution – save rivers!