Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Happy Children’s Day | Pandit Jwaharlal Nehru | Chachaj | Children's Day Importance



The Children's Day is celebrated every year on November 14, in the memory of the first prime minister of India, Pandit Jwaharlal Nehru, who born on this day in 1889. Fondly known as Chacha, Nehru has affection towards children. Once he said that he may not have time for adults but has ennough time for children. This day is dedicated to Children and raise awareness and empower children about their rights, care, and education. Children’s day was first observed on November 20 declared by Universal Children’s Day by the United Nations but after the death of Jawahar Lal Nehru in the year 1964, the Indian parliament passed a resolution to mark the first Prime Minister’s birth anniversary as Children’s day. Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru was born on November 14, 1889, he considered children as the future of the nation and the citizen of tomorrow. “The children of today will make the India of tomorrow. The way we bring them up will determine the future of the country,” Jawahar Lal Nehru had once said. 


Nehru was the man behind establishing institutes including Indian Institutes of Technology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, and Indian Institutes of Management. He was a strong advocate of Children’s education and worked hard for their rights.


Before 1964, India celebrated Children's Day on November 20 (the United Nations observes it on this day.) However, after the death of Pandit Nehru in 1964, it was decided that his birthday be celebrated as Children's Day. Along with being an able administrator, Nehru enforced the establishment of some of the most prominent educational institutions in India. His vision led to the establishment of AIIMS, IIT and IIM. Nehru has left behind a legacy of education for the children of India.


There is no documented reason for Nehru being called 'chachaji'. However, it is said that his love for children was a major reason behind the coinage of this term. Another popular version is that Nehru was very close Mahatma Gandhi, whom he considered his elder brother. While Gandhi was known as 'Bapu', Nehru came to be known as 'chachaji'.


Children’s Day in India is celebrated with fun events in schools where the children are presented with toys, sweets and gifts as an attempt to make the day special for them. Apart from the tribute Children’s Day offers to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the celebration speaks of children’s rights, care and education. On this day, schools and colleges organise various programmes like plays, competitions, cultural events etc., and sweets, books, stationary and other gifts are distributed to children. Also, November 20 is celebrated as the Universal Children’s Day, as declared by the United Nations. The day is a reminder that every child deserves education, nurturing and the best of everything. They are the building blocks of the nation and hence, the future of the nation depends how well they are brought up. To those who are now an adult, keep the kid inside you alive!


NANDITHA.AKUNURI

Sunday, October 31, 2021

హ్యాపీ చిల్డ్రన్స్‌ డే ! | పండిట్‌ జవహర్‌లాల్‌ నెహ్రూ | బాలల దినోత్సవం




పండిట్‌ జవహర్‌లాల్‌ నెహ్రూ, నవంబర్‌ 14వ తేదీన జన్మించారు. ఆయన జన్మదినాన్ని పురస్కరించుకునే మనం బాలల దినోత్సవం జరుపుకుంటాం. ఈ విషయాన్ని స్వయంగా చాచాజీ (నెహ్రూ పిల్లలు ముద్దుగా పిలుచుకునే పేరు)నే చెప్పారు. నవంబర్ 14వ తేదీని నా జన్మదినంగా గుర్తించవద్దనీ, ఆ రోజును "బాలల దినోత్సవం"గా గుర్తించాలని చాచాజీ చెప్పారు. అందుకే మనం చాచా నెహ్రూ జన్మదినోత్సవాన్ని బాలల దినోత్సవంగా జరుపుకుంటాం. బాలల బంగారు భవిష్యత్తులోనే భారతదేశ భవితవ్యం ఆధారపడి ఉందని చెప్పిన మహానుభావుడు మన జవహర్ లాల్ నెహ్రూ..! ఈ సందర్భాన్ని పురస్కరించుకున్న పిల్లల్లో ఉన్న సృజనాత్మకతను వెలికితీసే దిశగా పాఠశాలలు పది రోజుల ముందు నుంచే ఈ వేడులను నిర్వహిస్తుంటారు. స్కూళ్లల్లో ఎన్నో సాంస్కృతిక కార్యక్రమాలను నిర్వహించడం, కోలాహలంగా పిల్లలతో ఆడి, పాడించడం, వ్యాస రచన, వకృత్వ పోటీలు నిర్వహించడం వంటి కార్యక్రమాలు చేస్తుంటారు. ఈ పోటీల్లో గెలుపొందినవారికి బహుమతులు ప్రదానం చేయడం కూడా జరుగుతుంది.


భారతదేశ తొలి ప్రధాన మంత్రి జవహర్‌లాల్‌ నెహ్రూ. అత్యధిక కాలం ప్రధానిగా సేవలు అందించింది కూడా ఆయనే. బ్రిటిష్ వలసవాదుల దోపిడీకి గురైన భారతావని నేడు ఆర్థికంగా పరిపుష్టి సాధించిందంటే అందులో నెహ్రూ దార్శనికత, ముందుచూపు కారణం. ప్రధానిగా ఆయన అనుసరించిన విధానాలు దేశం ఆర్థికంగా బలపడటానికి పునాదులు వేశాయి. 1889 నవంబర్ 14న అలహాబాద్‌లో జన్మించిన నెహ్రూ భారత జాతీయోద్యమంలో ప్రముఖ పాత్ర పోషించారు. ఈ సమయంలో పలుసార్లు జైలుకు వెళ్లిన నెహ్రూ.. అక్కడ ఉన్నప్పుడే‘గ్లింప్సెస్ అఫ్ వరల్డ్ హిస్టరీ, ది డిస్కవరీ అఫ్ ఇండియా’ గ్రంథాలు రచించారు. 


తొలిసారి 1929లో భారత జాతీయ కాంగ్రెస్‌కు నాయకత్వం వహించారు. 1936, 1937 తర్వాత 1946లలో కాంగ్రెస్ అధ్యక్ష బాధ్యతలను నిర్వహించారు. జాతీయోద్యమంలో గాంధీజీ తర్వాత రెండో ప్రముఖ నాయకుడిగా అవతరించారు. ప్రధానిగా బాధ్యతలు చేపట్టిన తర్వాత విదేశాంగ విధానంలో సోషలిజం వైపు మొగ్గి రష్యాతో మైత్రికి ప్రాధాన్యత ఇచ్చారు. చైనాతో పంచశీల ఒప్పందం.. అలీనవిధానం ప్రతిపాదించిన త్రిమూర్తులలో ఒకరుగా ప్రసిద్ధి చెందారు. పంచవర్ష ప్రణాళికలను ప్రారంభించి దేశ ఆర్థికాభివృద్ధికి ఎంతగానో పాటుపడ్డారు.


ఇక, నెహ్రూకు పిల్లలన్నా, గులాబీలన్నా అమితమైన ప్రేమ. నెహ్రు ఎక్కడికెళ్లినా.. పిల్లలను వెతికి మరీ ఆప్యాయంగా పలకరించేవారు. వారికి కానుకలను ఇచ్చి ఉత్సాహపరిచేవారు. స్వాతంత్ర పోరాటంలో భాగంగా జైల్లో ఉన్నప్పుడు తన కుమార్తె ఇందిరకు అనేక ఉత్తరాలు రాసేవారు. స్వతహాగా రచయిత అయిన నెహ్రు తన కుమార్తెకు రాసిన ఉత్తరాల్లో బోలెడు మంచి విషయాలు చెప్పేవారు. పిల్లలు ఎలా ఉండాలి? ఎలాంటి విషయాలు నేర్చుకోవాలి? సమాజంలో మంచి, చెడులను ఎలా గ్రహించాలి? సమస్యలను ఎలా అధిగమించాలి తదితర అంశాలను కూలంకషంగా వివరించేవారు. నెహ్రూ నింపిన స్ఫూర్తి, ధైర్యంతో ఇందిర ‘ఉక్కు మహిళ’గా రూపొందారు. ప్రధానిగా పలు సాహసోపేతమైన నిర్ణయాలు తీసుకొని దేశాన్ని ముందుకు నడిపారు. తన కుమార్తె ఇందిరకు నెహ్రు రాసిన ఉత్తరాలు నేటి తరానికి పాఠాలయ్యాయి. ఆయన చెప్పిన ఆ మంచి మాటలు మనం ఎప్పటికీ ఆచరించదగినవే. 


పిల్లలకు కూడా పండిట్ నెహ్రూ అంటే వల్లమానిన ప్రేమ. ఆయణ్ని ముద్దుగా ‘చాచా నెహ్రూ’, ‘చాచాజీ’ అని పిలుచుకుంటారు. ఇష్టమైన మేనమామ/ బాబాయి అని దీని అర్థం. 1964లో నెహ్రూ మరణించిన తర్వాత ఆయన పుట్టిన రోజును ‘బాలల దినోత్సవం’గా నిర్వహించాలని భారత ప్రభుత్వం నిర్ణయించింది. నాటి నుంచి నవంబర్ 14ను ‘చిల్డ్రన్స్ డే’గా జరుపుకొంటున్నాం. స్వాతంత్య్రానికి ముందు బాలల దినోత్సవాన్ని నవంబర్ 20న అన్ని దేశాలతోపాటు నిర్వహించుకునేవాళ్లం. నవంబరు 20న చిల్డ్రన్స్ డే నిర్వహించాలని ఐక్యరాజ్య సమితిలోని సభ్యదేశాలు తీర్మానించాయి. 1964 వరకు భారత్ కూడా దీనినే అనుసరించినా నెహ్రు మరణం తర్వాత నుంచి నవంబర్ 14న చిల్డ్రన్స్ డే జరుపుకుంటున్నాం.



ఈ రోజున పాఠశాలల్లో పండగ వాతావరణం ఉంటుంది. పిల్లలకు ఇష్టమైన చాక్లెట్లు, ఇతర కానుకలను పంచిపెడతారు. వ్యాస రచన, క్విజ్ పోటీలు నిర్వహించి బహుమతులు అందిస్తారు. అనంతరం సాంసృతిక కార్యక్రమాలతో పిల్లల్లో ఉత్సాహం నింపుతారు.
 

NANDITHA AKUNURI

Friday, October 15, 2021

Happy Dussehra or Vijayadashami | Importance and Significance of Navratri

  
India is a land of festivals and celebrations. One or the other festival is celebrated in some part of the country throughout the year. All festivals convey the message of love, brotherhood and unity. They are celebrated by all Indians. Dussehra is an important festival. It is also known as Vijyadashmi. Dussehra or Vijayadashami is an important Hindu festival which signifies the victory of god over evil. This annual festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervour by Hindus across the world on the tenth day of the Navratras, which falls on the tenth day of Ashwin or Kartik months as per the Hindu calendar. As mentioned earlier, Dussehra or Vijayadashami has various stories behind it and so the festival is celebrated in different ways across India. For instance, in most states in North or Western India, Dussehra is celebrated in honour of Lord Rama. Ram lilas, which are re-enactment of musical plays based on the Ramcharitramanas are performed leading to Dussehra when large effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakaran and Meghanad are burnt down.


On the contrary, in many places in South India, the festival is celebrated in honour of Maa Saraswati-- Hindu Goddess of knowledge and arts. On this day, people clean and worship their instruments of livelihood and seek Goddess Saraswati's blessings. In Western India, especially in Gujarat, people observe fasts and worship the nine avatars of Goddess Durga for the nine days of Navratras leading to Dussehra or Vijayadashami. Dandiya and Garba are played during these nine days. On the tenth day, Maa Durga's idol is immersed in water signifying her return to Mount Kailash with Lord Shiva. Meanwhile, in West Bengal Durga Puja leads to Vijayadashami, also called Bijoy Dashomi, where in clay statues of Maa Durga are immersed in water bodies thus bidding a farewell to the Goddess. Right before the immersion, Bengali women indulge in Sindoor Khela wherein they apply vermilion (sindoor) on each other and wear red clothing-- ths signifying Maa Durga's victory.


During the nine days preceding to Dussehra or Durga Puja, devotees in the eastern states worship the nine avatars of Goddess Durga. Each of these nine forms represent a different side of Goddess Durga. Maa Bramhacharini is seen as a symbol of peace and purity, while Maa Kushmanda is believed to be the source of all energy in the Universe. People also prefer to buy new vehicles, properties or other new things on the day of Dussehra. It is an auspicious occasion and is believed to be the perfect day to start a new project or business. Devotees distribute gifts and sweets among their relatives and friends and also believe in celebrating this festival with their close ones. People often pray for a new beginning in their lives and also ask for forgiveness for any wrongdoings. Dussehra celebration is an important part of Indian culture. The vibrant colours, the huge idols and the relatable themes are a major attraction for foreign tourists. It holds a special place in the hearts of devotees and is usually followed by the festival of lights – Diwali.


Navratri is considered as an important sacred festival in the Hindu religion. Navratri worships Goddess Durga and her various forms which are the epitomes of power and have the ability to bring in anything desired. Not to forget it were these 9 Goddesses (NavDurga) who were able to conquer the most dangerous demon who could not be defeated by any of the other superpowers. Hence, you could have understood the importance and significance of these 9 days which are the most powerful of all. Navratri in India is a big religious festivity for nine propitious days. The celebration goes on for these favorable days with different rituals and customs in distinct parts. These nine days have a great significance in Hindu culture and religion. The worshipers adore their mother in beautiful incarnations with incompatible celebrations for nine consecutive days of Navratri. Here is the importance of Navratri Celebration.


Goddess Shakti exists in numerous ferocious as well as innocent manifestations; hence the celebration of each day of Navratri is dedicated to each Goddess embodiment for nine sacred days. Navratri is revered to show utter devotion and respect to Goddess and thus recognized with full devotion, zeal, and enthusiasm all over the country.It is believed that Mother Durga defeated the demon- Mahishasura on this festivity, therefore the solemnization begins with lightening the houses, temples and other divine places to spread happiness and gaiety all the corners. 


In North India, the nine-day festival Chaitra Navratri is observed to celebrate the victory of Rama over Ravana. During the festival, people dress up in traditional clothing, observe fasts, and offer prayers. Being one of the celebrated and distinguished religious occurrences for the Hindu community, this festival has become the most reverenced holy occasion.The occasion exhibits the victory of good over evil, thence the sacred glee starts with fasting, decorations, bhajans. People also invite small girls for the bhog and Prasad followed by placing goddesses’ images during the last days.In Hindu narrations, Chaitra Navratri is also termed as Vasant/ Basant Navratri since this divine revelry marks the beginning of Vasant Ritu or Spring Season in Indian culture.


'Navratri' means 'nine nights.' 'Nava' means 'nine,’ and 'Ratri' means 'night.' The saints have given more significance. Understanding it scientifically; night is peaceful and quiet, tantra-mantra and other supernatural things are in a strong position. It is easy to concentrate at the night. Chanting Mantra in a peaceful environment yields auspicious results. Many obstacles of nature are removed. This time may be used for gaining mental power and Yogic powers. Scientifically, performing things during the day increases the chances of problems in concentrating; just the way radio signals face problems during day time but improve in the night. The sound of the bells and conch kills Germs up-to far-away places. This period is used for Siddhi for fulfilling wishes. We worship the divine power to bestow upon all of us enough potent powers to maintain our physical and mental balance. Then they keep Shradha to remember our ancestors. So we can remember the beautiful memory those we have spent with our grandfather, grandmother & others. When we think about those happy moments, our Satwa goes up, so our energy level goes up.


On the first day, Devi Shailaputri (శైలపుత్రి-గాయత్రీదేవి) is worshipped. Devi Parvati is revered as the daughter of Himalaya Raja. Shaila means extraordinary or rising to great heights. The divine consciousness represented by Devi always surges from the peak. On this first day of Navratri, we propitiate Devi Shailaputri so that we may also attain the highest state of consciousness.


Devi Brahmacharini is propitiated. Devi Brahmacharini is the form of Devi Parvati in which she undertook severe penance to have Lord Shiva as Her consort. Brahma means divine consciousness and achar refers to behavior. This day is especially sacred to meditate and explore our inner divinity. Brahmacharya is the behavior or an act that is established in divine consciousness. 


Chandraghata is the special form that Devi Parvati assumed at the time of Her marriage with Lord Shiva. Chandra refers to the moon. The moon represents our mind. The mind is restless and keeps moving from one thought to another. Ghanta is a bell which produces only one kind of sound always. This day thus signifies withdrawing from all vagaries of the mind, with a single focus on Mother Divine. The significance is that when our mind is established at one point, i.e Divine, then our prana (subtle life force energy) gets consolidated leading to harmony and peace. 
 

On the fourth day, Mother Divine is worshipped as Devi Kushmanda. Kushmanda means a pumpkin. Ku means little, ushma means energy and anda refers to egg. This entire universe which arose from the cosmic egg (hiranyagarbha) is manifested from an infinitesimal energy of Devi. On this day, we worship Devi Kushmanda who showers us with Her divine energy. A pumpkin also represents prana as it has the unique property of absorbing and radiating prana. It is one of the most pranic vegetables. 


Skandamata means Mother of Skanda. On the fifth day, the motherly aspect of Devi Parvati is worshipped. In this form, she is the mother of Lord Karthikeya. She represents motherly affection (vatsalya). Worshiping this form of Devi brings abundance of wisdom, wealth, power, prosperity and liberation.


It is a form that Mother Divine assumed to annihilate the demonic forces in the universe. She was born from the anger of the gods. She is the one who slayed Mahishasura. As per our scriptures, anger that supports dharma (righteousness) is acceptable. Devi Katyayani represents that divine principle and form of the Mother Divine who is behind natural calamities and disasters. She is the anger that arises in creation to restore balance. Devi Katyayani is invoked on the sixth day to put an end to all our inner foes that are an obstacle on the path of spiritual evolution.

Mother Nature has two extremes. One is terrifying and devastating. The other is beautiful and serene. Devi Kalaratri is a fierce form of Devi. Kalaratri represents the dark night. Night is also considered an aspect of Mother Divine as it is night that brings solace, rest and comfort to our souls. It is only at night that we get a glimpse of infinity in the skies. Devi Kalaratri is that infinite dark energy that houses innumerable universes.


Devi Mahagauri is that which is beautiful, gives momentum and freedom in life. Mahagauri represents the beautiful and serene aspect of Nature. She is that energy which propels our lives and also liberates us. She is the Devi who is worshipped on the eighth day.


Siddhi means perfection. Devi Siddhidatri brings perfection in life. She makes the impossible, possible. She takes us beyond the ever reasoning logical mind to explore the realm beyond time and space.
 

Like all other festivals in India, Dussehra is observed with much enthusiasm and fervor by people of all ages. Though people from various corners of India celebrate this festival, the significance and mode of celebrations differ from place to place. Here are some of the key highlights of the celebration:
  

Processions: In some parts of the country where Vijaya Dashami is observed, people take out large processions and carry the idols of Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesh, and Kartik to a river or large water body for immersion. Such processions are marked by music, singing, dancing, and a mood of merriment. Ram Leela: Elsewhere, people take part in Ram Leelas, which are dance dramas depicting the epic of Ramayana. In these musicals, people including children dress up as characters from Ramayana and enact the scenes. These plays continue for nine days prior to the final act of killing Ravana on the Dussehra day. Ravan Dahan: In some other places, the main attraction of Dussehra is Ravan Dahan. It involves the burning of towering effigies of Ravana along with those of his brother Kumbhakaran and son Meghnad. The burning of effigies symbolizes – oh, that’s a no-brainer – the destruction of evil. Besides these, people also burst crackers and feast with their family and friends. Colorful fairs and exhibitions are put up at many places that add to the frenzied atmosphere of the festival.
             

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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Eco-friendly Ganesha idols versus the traditional Plaster Of Paris PoP




Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is one of the most celebrated festivals of the Hindus that marks the birth of Lord The tradition of Ganesh VisarjanOn the last day of the festival, the tradition of Ganesh Visarjan takes place. The concluding day of the 10-day: festival is also popularly known as Anant Chaturdashi. As the word 'visarjan' implies, on this day immersion ('visarjan' means immersion) of Lord Ganapati's idol takes place in a river, sea or water body. On the first day of the festival, the devotees mark the beginning of Ganesh Chaturthi with the placement of Lord Ganesha's idol in their homes, public places and offices. On the last day, the devotees come out in processions carrying the idols of their beloved God and perform immersion. 


There is an interesting story behind the legend of Ganesh visarjan. It is believed that Lord Ganesha returns to Mount Kailash to join his parents Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati on the last day of the festival. The celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi also denotes the significance of the cycle of birth, life and death. Ganesha, who is also known as the Lord of New Beginnings, is also worshipped as the Remover of Obstacles. It is believed that when the idol of the Ganesha is taken out for immersion, it also takes away with it the various obstacles of the house and these obstacles are destroyed along with the visarjan. Every year, people wait with great anticipation to celebrate the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi. And like always, we also hope that this year too, the Remover of Obstacles will shower us with his blessings and wipe out all the struggles from our life.


Go Green
All You Need To Know About Plaster Of Paris (PoP) Idols. I am sure you won’t buy Plaster of Paris (PoP) idols for Ganesha Festival or Durga Pooja after listening this.POP and Shadu Clay have been the predominant materials used to make the idols. POP has gained more popularity in very lesser time. Every year, thousands of POP idols find their way to market and get sold out. But what makes POP so popular? POP idols are so popular because, people love them and artists love to make them. Every year, after the end of the Vinayaka Chavithi festivities, officials of government agencies and NGOs are faced with the arduous task of clearing tonnes of debris and garbage from the city beaches. Environmentalists have repeatedly pointed to the dangers of using Plaster of Paris (PoP) in making the idols but till date, there has been no clear policy on this issue. 


Several governments have made efforts to ban the sale of PoP idols but the move has faced tough resistance. Experts say that the main issue here is the absence of a detailed study on the matter and the lack of a sustained campaign to highlight the dangers of using polluting substances in the making of idols. "If we look at the chemical composition of PoP, the material is developed by heating gypsum in temperatures ranging from 250 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. It again turns to gypsum when it comes in contact with water. 


Gypsum is a naturally occurring substance, and the idol-makers argue that it is harmless. On the other side, there is an argument that PoP and the chemical paints that are used to colour the idols contain heavy metals, which are toxic," said Prof. P.V.V. Prasada Rao, Head of the Department of Environment Sciences at Andhra University. The paint that is used contains heavy metals such as lead and cadmium, which can lead to neurological disorders and cancer. 


A senior biologist from AU said that once the PoP idols are immersed in water, be it in a river or the sea, the heavy metals present in the idols are dissolved in the water and enter the food chain through marine species and agricultural produce. Environmentalist Bolisetti Satyanarayana said that once PoP idols are immersed, the material turns to gypsum paste and damages the ecology of water bodies and causes a drop in dissolved oxygen. The toxic chemicals used in painting the idols also increase the toxin levels in the water.


Advantages of Plaster of Paris (PoP): Light-weight, Durable, Easy to mould into any shape, Has low thermal conductivity, Good for fire resistance and heat insulation It doesn’t shrink while setting. Therefore, it does not develop cracks on heating or setting. Easy to mix up with water. Easy to spread and level. It has good adhesion on fibrous materials,Doesn’t react with paint and does not cause alkali attack, Provides a lot of shine and smoothness to the surface.


Disadvantages of Plaster of Paris (PoP): Not suitable for exterior finish as it is slightly soluble in water, Cost is higher than the cement or cement lime plaster., Not suitable for moist situations PoP idols are not eco friendly. Skilled labour is required for precise application of plaster of Paris, which results in higher labour cost. Awareness on the rise. Vinayaka Chavithi celebrations were mostly limited to households. 


But over the years, public celebrations have gained ground. Today, in the city alone, about 2,000 pandals are erected and in most cases, the idols exceed a height of four feet. "Till about five to six years ago, 90% of the idols installed in the pandals were made of PoP, but now there is a slow but steady change with organisers coming forward to use clay or eco-friendly idols," said an officer from the A.P. Pollution.



4 reasons an eco-friendly: Eco-friendly Ganesha idols versus the traditional Plaster Of Paris ones. While the ones made of POP are very attractive, cheap and easy to make, the eco-friendly ones can do a lot of good for your health and the environment at large. Eco-friendly Ganesha idols are those that are made of clay, natural fibers, paper and other biodegradable materials. These idols, when immersed in water degrade faster and do not harm the environment as much as the ones made of POP. So, to help you make the move towards a more eco-friendly Ganesh Chaturti, here are reasons an eco-friendly Ganesha idol is the best way to go.


Does not pollute natural water sources: One big drawback of Ganesha idols made of POP is the fact that POP does not degrade easily, leading to severe consequences like polluted water. The material also increases the acid content of water sources and can kill natural life in the water. While we may not think much of this, you must realise that life that survives in water are an essential part of our ecology. Not only do they help keep the water pure and healthy but they also help keep common pests like mosquitoes at bay (fish found in lakes and ponds feed on mosquitoes keeping their numbers in check). Apart from all this studies have found that people who use this polluted water suffer from a host of medical conditions like infections, lung disease, ailments related to the skin, blood and eyes. Metal content in water affects the quality of foods: POP contains chemicals like magnesium, gypsum, phosphorus and sulphur. The dyes that are commonly used to decorate these idols also contain mercury, cadmium, arsenic, lead, and carbon. 
   

When these idols are immersed in common water sources (like the sea, ponds, lakes, etc.) it gets contaminated with high amount of metal and other chemicals which kill fish and plants that live in water. Not only does this lead to a phenomenon called 'dead water body', where the water body cannot harbour any life forms, but could also lead to heavy metal poisoning caused due to the consumption of fish contaminated with these metals. When ingested these heavy metals are known to interfere with several systems of the body. 


Dyes and glitter on POP idols can harm you as well. Apart from all the above risks, the dyes that are commonly used to colour Ganesha idols made of POP can be harmful to you and your family. Apart from that the glitter that is often used to add that special sparkle to the idol may also rub off on your hands and clothes. When inhaled this glitter can cause damage to your lungs, affect your eyes and even cause allergies in some. In contrast an eco-friendly Ganesha idol poses none of those risks.
  

Eco-friendly Ganesha idols can be a family-bonding exercise The best part about owning an eco-friendly Ganesha idols is the fact that you can make them yourself. You might need some guidance initially, but later it can be a lot of fun to create your own idol. The whole activity can be a great way of family bonding and allows you and your family members an opportunity to unleash their creativity. You can choose from a variety of materials like paper mache, clay, aata and even turmeric to make your very own eco-friendly Ganesha idol.



Ganesh Chaturthi | History | Importance



Ganesh Chaturthi is also known as Vinayaka Chavithi. It is an auspicious Hindu festival that is celebrated for 10-11 days every year. This is usually celebrated in the Bhadra month as per the Hindu Calendar.


The elephant-headed Lord Ganesh is known for wealth, sciences, knowledge, wisdom and prosperity. During this time, the people remember his wisdom and seek his blessings before starting any important work. Lord Ganesh has approximately 108 different names. He is also known as Gajanana, Vinayaka, Vighnaharta among many others.


This festival is celebrated widely among different states all across India. States like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana celebrate this with great grandeur and glam.
Ganesh Chaturthi history:
Ganesha is the younger son of Lord Shiva and Parvati. There are various stories behind his birth but two of them are the most common ones.
 

According to the first story, Lord Ganesha was created by Parvati out of dirt from her body to guard her in the absence of Shiva. She gave him the task of guarding her bathroom door while she took a bath. In the meantime, Shiva returned home and Ganesha, who didn't know who Shiva was, stopped him. This angered Shiva and he severed Ganesha's head after a tiff between the two. Parvati was enraged when she came to know about this; Lord Shiva, in turn, promised to get Ganesha back to life. The devas were sent to search for a child's head facing north but they could only find an elephant's head. Shiva fixed the elephant's head on the child's body, and that how Ganesha was born.


The other popular story is that the Devas requested Shiva and Parvati to create Ganesha so that he can be a Vighnakarta (creator of obstacles) for rakshasas (demons), thus being a Vighnaharta (averter of obstacles) and helping Devas. Devotees who pray to Ganesha are said to be able to get their wishes and desires granted. So, the fundamental point of Ganesh Chaturthi is that devotees who pray to him are cleansed of their sins and guided down the road of enlightenment and understanding.


Ganesh Chaturthi importance
It is believed that devotees who pray to Ganesha are able to fulfil their wishes and desires. So, the main essence of Ganesh Chaturthi is that devotees who pray to him are set free of sins and it leads them on the path of knowledge and wisdom. Historically, the festival has been celebrated since the time of King Shivaji. It was during India's freedom struggle that Lokmanya Tilak changed Ganesh Chaturthi from a private celebration to a grand public festival where people from all castes of the society can come together, pray and be united.


Over the years with growing environmental awareness, people have started celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi in an environmentally friendly way. This includes-- getting Ganesha idols made of natural clay/ mitti and using only flowers and natural items for decorating the pandals. There are four main rituals which are performed during the 10-day long festival. They are namely-- Pranapratishhtha, Shhodashopachara, Uttarpuja, and Ganpati Visarjan.


The excitement of Ganesh Chaturthi settles in weeks before the festival actually begins. Artisans start preparing clay idols of Ganesha in different poses and sizes. The Ganesha idols are installed in beautifully decorated 'pandal' at homes, temples or localities. The statue is also decorated with flowers, garlands and lights. A ritual called Pranapratishhtha is observed where a priest chants mantra to invoke life in the diety.


Prayers are then offered to Ganesha's idol in 16 different ways. This ritual is called Shhodashopachara. People celebrate by singing or playing religious songs, dancing to drum beats and by lighting up fireworks-- all of which add to the festive mood. The Uttarpuja ritual is then performed which is about bidding farewell to Ganesha with deep respect. This is followed by Ganpati Visarjan, a ceremony wherein the statue is now immersed in water. While carrying the statue to the sea and while immersing it, people generally chant in the Marathi language 'Ganapati Bappa Morya, Purchya Varshi Laukariya' which means 'Goodbye Lord, please come back next year'.
   

While some devotees celebrate this festival at home, others pay their visit to Lord Ganesha at public pandals. People offer their due respect, prayers and offerings to Ganesha. Dishes like Lord Ganesha's favourite Modak, Pooran Poli, and Karanji are prepared for friends, family and visitors.
 

How many days can we keep Ganpati at home?
In order to install Lord Ganesha's clay idol at home, devotees first clean their house and take a bath themselves. They then fill a Kalash with water, place a coconut on top of it and decorate it with betel leaves. The Ganesha idol is then placed on a platform which is at some height. The idol is then adorned with a sacred thread (Janve) on the left shoulder and adorned with a sandalwood paste tilak on the forehead and garlands; Durva grass and red flowers are offered to Ganesha. Mantras from Rigveda are recited to do pranpratishtha, a ghee lamp is lighted and the Lord is offered Modak while aartis are performed.


Devotees can bring Ganesha home for 1.5 days, 3 days, 7 days or 10 days. Once the Ganpati Sthapna is done the following rules should be followed by the devotees:
1. Devotees and their family member should avoid having garlic and onion after Ganpati Sthapna, during the festival period. Lord Ganesha is a guest at your home during the festival. And so, everything-- be it food, water or prasad-- should first be offered to Ganapati first. 3. It should be noted that Ganesha should never be left home alone or unattended. There should be atleast one family member with him.Avoid negative thoughts. One must also not fight or use foul language in the presence of the Lord. Try to be calm in difficult situations, as Ganesha will take care of you and your troubles. After installing a Ganesha idol in your home, one should observe celibacy during the festival period.