Indigenous Rituals: Changing Practices for Cultural and Environmental Sustainability

Mukta Latkar
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India is a land of rich culture and expressive festivals. Holy days and Holidays are enjoyed and celebrated with a great zeal. Of this the 10 day long Ganapati Festival in the cultural city of Pune in the progressive state of Maharashtra. have gained a global attraction. Everyone loves Lord Ganapati with his curving trunk, pot-belly and big flappy ears. He is the benevolent protector of the innocent, yet the ruthless destroyer of evil.

This festival celebrates the presence of the lord for 10 days from Ganeshchaturthi - (the fourth day of the month) to Anantchaturdashi – (the fourteenth day of the month). On the tenth day of the festival the lord is bid Adieu with the Immersion of the Idols in the waters. These magical 10 long days of Ganapati’s existence amongst the people and more importantly the immersion procession is Ritualistically and Religiously carried out with the same zeal and fervor, voluntarily and in good faith by one and all for hundreds of years now in the city of pune.

What makes this festival of much importance is that an clay or plaster of paris sculpted idol of the Lord Ganesh is brought in by every household of the city and town and state in addition to the various idols publicly worshipped. The immersion process and rituals therefore gain a very different scale with over lakhs of small size idols and hundreds of huge idols being immersed in waters on the 10th day.

Cultural and religious rules demand immersion of all idols in natural water sources. However the increasing number of idols with the ever increasing city population, the materials the idols are made of, the paints used for colouring them and most importantly the very less amount of waters that flow in the rivers greatly add to the pollutional aspects with irreparable damages to the well, lake and river Ecosystem.

Keeping the religious beliefs intact and ensuring the nature’s way of treatment of idols , but not by immersing the idols in rivers or wells is the theme of immersing them in the innumerable specially built immersion tanks built all along the river ghats and at numerous places all over the town. The Donation of the lord ganapati idol is also encouraged. The Pune Municipal Corporation, the Local Authority managing the festival puts up temporary immersion tanks at various places along the river. It also helps in transporting the donated idols to a nearby quarry. The floral offerings or the nirmalya are collected by the local authorities and used for making manure. This is used by the garden department of the corporation and also distributed to the citizens free of cost.

All efforts are initiated to keep the Ritualistic Concepts Intact with modifications to suit the changing sustainability concerns. The festival off-late have taken on an Environmentally Friendly approach with authorities and organisations getting together to ensure that the aquatic ecosystems and urban rivers do not get polluted while religious sentiments are honored. Due credit also goes to the conscious citizens who take all the efforts to uphold the religious sentiments and traditional values of the age-old traditions and yet contribute religiously to the cause with a sustainable attitude. The measures adopted are environmental and culturally responsive with the ecological situations addressed by the peoples initiative aided with the institutional governance.

Keywords: Festivals, Religion, Rituals, Culture and Environmental Concerns
Stream: Cultural Sustainability
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Mukta Latkar

Lecturer, Bharati Vidyapeeth, University College of Architecture, Pune

Ref: S06P0405