There is a beauty to Durga Pujos that goes beyond description. The decorated pandals, bhog, decked up people and divinity all come together for 10 days to celebrate Durga Pujo. There is nostalgia in the air that mixes with the smoke let out from the havan kund. The laughter of young people meeting friends and family members joins the sound of dhak. As ma Durga comes to bond with earthlings and rejoices in the happiness of her earthly family, the people also come together to pay their regards to her and enjoy the festivity.
While all this is happening, it is difficult to forget that Durga Puja which is celebrated to emit any durgati meaning bad luck, evil, anything negative actually has become a huge source of destruction for mother earth. The idols in themselves, from making to the visharjan (immersion) are a huge source of waste creation. While many government institutions, NGOs and private sector organizations and groups of people are making efforts to have better quality products that create less pollution, for example different kind of organic materials are being used to create Eco-friendly idols and the immersion is being done in human-made water pools to avoid direct pollution of rivers, there is yet a lot to be done.
Plastic Water Bottles are a huge source of pollutants. People hopping from one pandal to another, do definitely feel thirsty. Their best and only option in the heat of October is to buy a plastic water bottle. We know what happens to these bottles when we are done with the bottle. It gets tossed in the dustbin or it is thrown in some corner of the pandal.
I have seen, a mini truckload of, plastic water bottles being trashed after a single day of Durga Puja. Delhi hosts, a minimum of 200 Durga Pujas every year. If an average pandal generates about 300–500 bottles (estimated number derived having observed the heap of bottles-research required) in a day then if we multiply the number 500 bottles*4 days of puja a minimum *200 Durga Puja pandals a minimum will give us round about 4,00,000 plastic water bottles. This number is the lowest I am quoting by a rough estimate. I am sure a complete research will give us anywhere between 5 to 10 times more the number than this.
A four day Durga Puja which is supposed to bring us joy, happiness and peace brings us a lot of opposites and we can’t blame Durga Ma for it. We have created this problem and we can change it too.
If each of these Durga Puja Samitis can send one text msg to ask its members to bring an ECO-friendly, reusable bottle with them during puja which can then be refilled by paying INR 10 for one-liter water, by using water vending machines, which is less than what we pay at the market, this can be a great change towards making Durga Pujas #plasticfreepujas.
Yes, this is a dream. A far fetched one at that. One can begin though, from where we are, we can dream today, take a small first step and keep taking these steps until the dream becomes a reality.
Durga Pujas need to about love, joy, beauty, dance, good food, meeting our loved ones and taking blessing from the courageous and motherly goddess Durga.
Can we make our puja about just that and nothing else?