Durga Puja organisers send out a green message

September 29th, 2010 - 12:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Sep 29 (IANS) It’s a green message from no less than mother goddess Durga! Lead-free idols and themes like rainwater harvesting and global warming have caught on at many community marquees that are coming up for the Durga Puja festival this time.By Sabyasachi Roy

Suruchi Sangha in south Kolkata’s New Alipore, like in the past few years, will showcase rainwater harvesting at its marquee, locally known as ‘pandals’.

“To generate awareness on the need for harvesting rainwater to check the water crisis, which is likely to be acute in the next few years, Suruchi Sangha’s pandal will feature the Karnataka model where harvesting of rainwater was practised even 5,000 years back,” Amar Sarkar, the main artist, told IANS.

“Big underground reservoirs are still found across the state which also has a very rich culture, tradition and heritage,” he added.

During Durga Puja, the biggest festival of Bengalis which begins Oct 14 this year, idols of the goddess and her four children will be worshipped for four days at public marquees.

Raja Sen, one of the main organisers of the Suruchi Sangha Durga Puja festival, said: “For the past few years we have been making our marquees on the environment theme.”

“Last year, we recreated the peaceful, natural ambience of Jharkhand amid the bustle of Kolkata. To make good this theme, we started growing plants of at least 85 varieties throughout last year on a designated plot,” he said.

“And the efforts were rewarded with a dense foliage, with many plants growing as high as 30 feet. This will form the green canopy for goddess Durga and her children to create awareness about global warming,” he said.

Alongside the main marquee, a big reservoir is being constructed where there will be simulated rains.

“The excess water will be made to flow down to the nearby river Ganga through a pipeline. Not a single drop of water will be wasted, as we have come to know from a survey report that a litre of water will cost more than a litre of petrol in 2020,” Sarkar said.

Borisha Club in the city’s southern outskirts, Behala, is focussing on soil fertility.

“Goddess Durga will bring rain to make the land fertile, resulting in a good harvest. At our marquee, we will artificially strive to portray that Durga is the goddess of creation,” said Animesh Chakraborty of Borisha Club.

“We will place around 30,000 mud pitchers, which will resemble the soil. The pitchers will wait for rainwater to make the soil fertile, so that cultivation can be carried out,” he said.

“We decided to focus on this theme after West Bengal last year recorded much less rainfall than the average,” he said.

The West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) is trying to promote lead-free colours among idol-makers and puja committee members to reduce water pollution caused by the immersion of giant idols of Durga and her four children.

Colours mixed with lead that are used to paint the idols pose a threat to water bodies and aquatic animals.

A senior WBPCB official said: “We have distributed free colours worth Rs.1 lakh to artisans. This year at least 450 puja committees have ordered idols painted with lead-free colours.”

Not all artisans are enthused.

Babu Pal, secretary of the Kumartuli Mrit Shilpa Sanskritik Samity, said: “The colours provided by the WBPCB were inadequate. A private paint company also distributed five litres of lead-free colour to 151 artisans. But five litres of colour is used up by eight to 10 idols whereas each artisan makes 30 idols on an average every Durga Puja.”

But it is a beginning nevertheless, say the greens.

The Sodepur Agragami Sangha in Behala will campaign for banning plastic.

“Mahishasura is being made out of plastic. Durga, by killing the demon, will teach people to stop using plastic,” a member of the puja committee said.

Several other big puja organisers in the city like Abosarika in Dhakuria, Children’s Park in New Alipore, 41 Pally in Haridebpur and Sarbijanin Durga Utshav Committee in Behala will have environment protection as their theme.

The marquees highlight the negative aspects of industrial emission, vehicular pollution, unplanned urbanisation and deforestation.

(Sabyasachi Roy can be contacted at sabyasachi.r@ians.in)

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