It would seem that with every article, my resolve to not write about religion is being broken with this article being one of the same type. I do not wish to offend anyone, do not wish to ridicule any belief but simply am attempting to relay my opinion on the practices of one religion as they have affected me personally. The religion at hand is Hinduism, which I am a follower of, and the practice is the immersion of the idols of Ganeshji. Let me just make clear that my family does not partake in said practice and I do not condone it, not bearing in mind the purpose of the immersion but merely the adverse effects of said practice in Bangalore.
As I was on my way back home yesterday from a wholesome meal at a quaint cafe, my eyes fell upon the Ulsoor lake in Bangalore, a large source of pride for us Bangaloreans when it is in its natural, pristine condition. At that moment, it was the furthest from its general image as possible. Heaps of garbage and plaster remnants had accumulated on the calm waters of the lake, with its surroundings not being spared either. Plastic packets and more of the aforementioned pollutants were strewn all along with the pathway built for daily walkers and those who wished to admire the lake in its previous condition. Needless to say, I was rather shocked, not knowing what occurrence had caused such a change in the cleanliness of the water body and had deemed the immense work undertaken by the government and private bodies for the cleanliness of the river to be null and void. Upon questioning my driver about the lake after making him pull the car over to allow for further examination, it was brought to my knowledge that the current state of the lake was due to the immersion of idols of Lord Ganesha. The crowds drawn by the immersion had littered the area and the water suffered directly due to the idols concocted by the hazardous Plaster of Paris and mud. Now I didn’t know how to react, given my general neutral stance on religion but slowly, anger crept up behind me and consumed me. I was furious. It didn’t matter that some followers of the very same religion I followed had caused this mess, a problem is a problem. It could hardly be deemed fair to simply blame a certain group of people for the issue without analyzing the reasons for their actions and thus that is precisely what I did next.
What my quick roam of the internet taught me was that the immersion of Lord Ganesha in ancient times was immensely logical as they idols were crafted from solely mud and clay and thus did not harm the rivers but solely aided them, with the clay idols breaking up and when they would accumulate along the banks of the river, they would be extremely fertile and thus very arable. Now ladies and gentlemen, what I fail to understand is how the immersion of plaster of Paris (PoP) idols, which do not break up, in a lake with no outlet and thus no scope for the accumulation of fertile soil is going to be anything but detrimental. One may argue that the immersion has become symbolic, as one person online wrote that the immersion of Lord Ganesha marks his journey to Kailash Parvat wherein he carries away the misfortune of his devotees. In no way meaning to disrespect the sentiment, I do not think it is applicable in justifying the immersion of PoP idols of Lord Ganesha in Ulsoor lake as it would imply that having a clean lake is a misfortune as the lake losing its cleanliness is the only visible effect of the immersion and I can say with certainty that this would not lie with the wishes of Lord Ganesha.
I do not wish for people to stop immersing idols as it is their right to. But the thing about symbolism with regards to the plaster of Paris idols is that it can be on any scale with the effect being the same; all the way from a full-scale immersion in the sea to an immersion in a tub, a popular method amongst many families. We simply must realize the effects of our actions fully before undertaking them. The rest is clearly evident through the following –