September 9 – Ganesh Chaturthi

Posted on September 9, 2013

Today is the beginning of a Hindu festival that celebrates the rebirth of the Lord Ganesha, who is considered the god of wisdom, prosperity (riches), and good fortune. One of the most important traditions is the making or purchasing of models of Ganesha, the elephant-headed god. These statues may be as tiny as less than an inch (2 cm) or enormous—70 feet (21 m) or more! The tallest of these models of Lord Ganesha was about 117 feet tall (35 m).

Unfortunately, at the end of the festival (10 or 12 days for now), the tradition is to immerse the Ganesh models in lakes or rivers. In the olden days, people created the statues out of the mud near their homes, and they returned the mud to the Earth with this immersion—but nowadays, many people buy or make Plaster of Paris models adorned with beautiful paints that include heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium. Plaster is non-biodegradable and doesn't dissolve in water, and of course the heavy metals in the paint cause water pollution. Many intricate Ganesh models have non-biodegradable accessories that accumulate on the shores of the lakes and rivers.

The government of Trinidad and Tobago, where many Hindu people celebrate this holiday, has launched efforts to educate the people about the pollution problems caused by some Ganesh statues. There are many possible solutions being urged and tried. Of course, some people are going back to using natural clay; in contrast, some people buy permanent statues made of stone or brass, which can be immersed for symbolic purposes but which don't dissolve (and can be used year after year). And some people love their painted plaster models but immerse them in tanks of water rather than public waterways.

Check out this video of hundreds of people gathering to enjoy each other's Ganesh models—and to immerse them lakes and rivers. 

Check out these amazing pictures of the Lord Ganesha.

Also on this date:

Plan Ahead!

And here are my Pinterest pages on October holidaysOctober birthdays, and historical anniversaries in October.

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