In less than a month, Pune will embrace a festive atmosphere to welcome its beloved Bappa. Ganeshotsav will change the cityscape and bring immense colour to the lives of several Puneites.
This year also marks the 125th anniversary of the festival in the city. The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is planning a host of activities to ensure that the celebrations this year are bigger and better..
The civic body plans to arrange for 5000 dhol tasha players to assemble at S P College grounds to create a world record. Setting aside Rs. 2 crore for the festival’s expenditure, the PMC is also likely to rope in Sachin Tendulkar as the brand ambassador of the festival.
This is yet another year where devotees must be made aware of the environmental damage they is caused by immersing idols made from Plaster of Paris (PoP) in our river.
The Mula-Mutha Rivers are dead. That is the truth. According to studies conducted, the amount of dissolved oxygen needed for a river to be healthy is around 8 ppm. The rate of dissolved oxygen in the Mula-Mutha Rivers is zero. Yes, you read that right, zero. Shunya.
At this rate, there is absolutely no chance of survival for our marine biodiversity which has led to the migration of several fisherfolk from the city to other parts of the state. The pollution has caused several different species of fish to vanish from the river.
As a journalist, I had covered Ganeshotsav extensively last year. The civic body had created water tanks so that people could be encouraged to immerse the idols there. I remember going to those water tanks and seeing numerous idols staring back at me. The artificial red paint would slowly be peeling off rendering the idols lack lustre. Several initiatives have been made to encourage people to get idols made from shadu clay, mud and now even chocolate.
On the first day, as the processions began, they city had gathered around the Peth areas to witness the aarti and inaugural ceremony. There were several dhol tasha troupes playing unique beats. Last year, the PMC had put a limit on how many players a dhol pathak could have, to control the level of noise pollution. I had reached early in the morning to cover the festival. The energy surrounding the place and the excitement of the people is eclectic. It proved beyond doubt, that despite all the atrocities in the world, there still exists several reasons to live for.
While all of this will continue to happen, I often wonder how best we can all continue to celebrate Ganeshotsav without making a mess of our environment.
If our rivers dry up and water is scarce, will we be willing to ration it for this purpose? Or will this festivity stop all together? These are a few questions lingering on in my mind as I gear up to cover the Ganeshotsav once again.. Hopefully, someone has the answers.
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