We worship trees, cows, we uphold the five elements of nature — air, water, fire, earth and space — and now we are all set to welcome the elephant god. When most of our religious acts are connected to Mother Nature, why not take one step ahead and actively help the environment?
This Ganapati, make a promise to celebrate the festival in a more greener way by making use of the floral offerings.
Most of us who get the lord home know that every morning, Ganesha is adorned with flowers and garlands before conducting the puja. Even visitors coming home, often get garlands for Bappa. While we lovingly adorn the idol, further enhancing the beauty, what happens to the floral offerings after the puja and once the flowers have wilted? Most of these either go to the garbage bins, or worse, are discarded in a river or pond.
Let’s instead use them intelligently and in an eco-friendly manner that will also nurture the gardens in your homes.
K Krishnamurthy from Panvel gets the lord home every year for two days. “My idol is very tiny, so the flower waste generated is also less. I usually immerse it in the river during visarjan because that’s what I have always been told,” she says.
Does this serve the purpose of protecting nature? Clearly not! These flowers do nothing but pollute our water bodies and in turn harm aquatic life. Some, however, adopt solutions offered by our governing bodies.
Like Gaurav Joshi from Thane, who deposits all the nirmalya (flowers offered to god) into a nirmalya kalash that is installed at the immersion site. “Every year, we have Ganapati at home for a day and half. So it is easier for us to collect all the flowers and garland from those two days and deposit them into the kalash during visarjan,” Joshi says.
While that is a good idea too, composting is another easy and do-it-yourself option, suggests Col (retd) Shashikant Dalvi of the Parjanya Foundation. “All you need is some wet waste and a compost culture that is easily available in the market,” he says. “Just make a small space for it depending on your need. You can either do it at your home or for the entire residential complex. If you are doing it at the community level, a good idea would be to create a dedicated compost bin in the campus. At home, you might simply buy a tray or a large pot for it,” Col Dalvi explains.
Once you have stopped adding new materials, your entire compost should be ready in a matter of days depending on the quantity. You will know it once the entire mixture turns into coarse soil-like texture. You can use this in your garden for all those beautiful flowers to blossom and for a healthier garden and home.
“Composting at source must be compulsory for all,” believes Col Dalvi. An incentive like a rebate on property tax for complying and a heavy fine levied for non compliance, has been his suggestion to governing bodies.
Take this green step this festive season — for your gardens and for the right kind of worship.
This is how you go about it
- Composting on bare earth is the best option as this allows worms and other beneficial organisms to aerate the compost. If that is not an option, you can create a soil bed in your tray or compost bin.
- Lay some twigs or dry leaves and straw first. This helps aerate your pile.
- Add all the flowers and garlands in layers, alternating moist and dry. The flowers count as moist ingredients. Dry materials are the straw, leaves, etc.
- Add the compost culture. It has nitrogen which activates the compost pile and quickens the process.
- Ensure that the compost is kept moist. Spray water occasionally, or let rain do the job, but don’t make the pile too wet or the microbes will die due to water-logging. The compost should be moist, but not soaked and sodden.
- Cover the collection with some soil — it will cover the odour and help retain moisture and heat too, both very essential for compost.
- Turn the pile upside down every few days/ weeks depending on the quantity. This aerates the pile. Oxygen is required for the process.
- Once the pile is ready, add new materials by mixing them in and not just adding a new layer.