Published: 13th September 2018
This NGO is saving Bengaluru lakes by showing people an eco-friendly way to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi
YFS has been training and creating awareness in Bengaluru and Hyderabad about self-made clay Ganesha idols for more than eight years
Ganesh Chaturthi sees all sorts of grandeur across Bengaluru every year. But the city has to pay a price. Specifically, its waterbodies which are dying a slow death from the numerous idols immersed in them every year. Youth For Seva, a non-profit organisation has been working for the past eight years to create awareness among people to celebrate an eco-friendly Ganesh Chaturthi.
Their constant efforts have made thousands of people from Bengaluru and Hyderabad shift to much more environment-friendly modes of celebration. Volunteers gear up every September for the 'Parisara Ganapathi' campaign that promotes sculpting their own clay idols and spread awareness on why they should not immerse the plaster of paris idols. Last year, the organisation was able to train more than a thousand people and this year too they expect to do the same.
Eco-friendly Ganesha: Youth for Seva promotes sculpting their own clay idols
Srinivas Hegde, Incharge for Volunteer Management, says, "Before Youth For Seva started creating awareness in 2007 in Bengaluru about welcoming eco-friendly Ganesha, there were quite a few people who knew about it. Our aim was not only to create awareness but see that they will follow the same at home."
He further adds, "We started with a workshop to create clay Ganesha models where only a few people participated. Now we train hundreds of residents, students of government schools, corporate executives, travel agents amongst others."
Initially, It was difficult for the organisation to convince people to use self-made idols. "The Hindu mythology says that a Ganesha idol made by one's hand is considered more auspicious than anything else. When the festival was celebrated pre-Independence, people used idols made of clay. It is only recently that the plaster of paris idols with synthetic colours are being used," he adds.
Environment-friendly celebrations: Similar to their Bengaluru chapter, they have a setup in Hyderabad as well
Be it organising workshops or convincing people to attend it and bringing in all the material required to make idols it is all about teamwork. BG Srinivas, a resident of Yelahanka, procures large quantities of clay for more than ten years now. "I have taken this responsibility from the initial stage and it is a for a good cause. Usually, I get clay from the clay station at HSR Layout or sometimes even from potters. We need to inform them a month before we start our workshop. We cannot bring the clay at once and start using it. It needs to be softened so that the idol will remain stiff and does not crack."
Similar to their Bengaluru chapter, they have a setup in Hyderabad as well who are working for the same cause for over seven years. Venkat Dusari, Regional Manager, YFS, Hyderabad, says, "We held a workshop on September 9 for our volunteers so that they go ahead to train children, parents and corporates. The response has been resounding and it will continue to be."
The Hyderabad team has always come up with unique techniques to reach out to people. Two years ago, volunteers dressed like Ganesha and waited near lakes and rivers to tell people not to immerse the Plaster of Paris idols. "Our volunteers also used to clean the lake premises post-celebration. However, the from Municipal Corporation workers are enough to clean the premises and our volunteers will not do that task this year," he explains.