By M.B. Pavan Murthy
COVID is a kill-joy for Ganesha Chaturthi and Sri Krishna Janmashtami celebrations that fall next in the series of festivals after Varamahalakshmi Vrata and Raksha Bandhan. Owing to COVID contagion, it will be private Ganesha celebrations this year and there will be no mass festivals and roadside pendals.
Mumbai and Maharashtra have already decided to curtail community Janmashtami and Ganesha Chaturthi celebrations in the wake of the rising COVID-19 cases. Karnataka, in particular Mysuru too will have to follow the same example. The need of the hour is to prevent crowding and ensure health and safety of people.
Ganesha Chaturthi falls on Aug. 22 and idol-makers in city fear that the pandemic as well as the restrictions imposed by the Government will hit their livelihood. Every year, in March or April, the idol-making process starts with the fetching of ideal soil (clay). The soil is softened and idols are made. The sale actually begins by July and peaks during August with every roadside nook and corner sporting idols of various sizes and themes.
This year, however, owing to the pandemic, idol-makers are yet to showcase their masterpieces. Amidst the contagion, the humble turmeric is back in focus for its scientifically-proven health benefits such as the potential to prevent heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer.
The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), recognising turmeric’s potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, has proposed the idea of Turmeric Ganesha amidst the pandemic. It has suggested that this is the ideal time to have home-made and eco-friendly idols, especially those made with turmeric.
KSPCB Member Secretary Srinivasalu told Star of Mysore that a meeting has already been called with idol-makers. They will be told that stern action will be taken against all those making and selling Plaster of Paris (PoP) idols. “We are in talks with some idol-makers to create awareness on making clay and turmeric idols at home and having a low-profile festival.”
“Talks are also on with sculptors and small videos are being made which will be circulated so that people can see and learn. Turmeric has antibiotic and anti-bacterial properties and is ideal to be used during the COVID-19 times. For that matter, even using clay to make idols is not an eco-friendly idea as it takes over 500 years for one feet soil to form. Turmeric Ganesha is a wonderful idea and people can immerse them at homes without going for community celebrations,” he said.
“Directions are also being sent to all check-posts to seize PoP idols and inform KSPCB and we will take criminal action against people,” he said. Srinivasalu added that no mass celebrations should be held during this pandemic and the orders of other States will be studied, before sending letters to Municipal Corporations and Councils for implementation.
KSPCB’s Mysuru Regional Office Environment Officer Prakash said that awareness about Turmeric Ganesha will be spread through milk packets, electricity and water bills. “Already an agarbathi manufacturer in Mysuru has printed Turmeric Ganesha poster in the agarbathi packets and Mysuru Milk Union Limited has agreed to print two lines on every milk packet urging people to use turmeric Ganesha,” he added.