Ganesh Chathurthi or Vinayagar Chathurthi is a festival that is pre-dominantly north indian in origin. But these days, it is being celebrated in Tamil Nadu with a lot of pomp, glamour and show of money. Just a few years back, it was confined to Brahmin homes who would keep a small Ganesh idol, do puja and then immerse it in the well or tank closeby.
These days there are huge Ganesh idols kept in public place (reminiscent of western Maharashtra especially Mumbai and Pune), aartis and pujas are done for five days.Then these idols are dumped into the sea, eri or lakes. These water-bodies are polluted with chemical dyes and plaster of paris statues turning them into environmental hazards.
Why did Ganesh Chathurthi suddenly get hyped as a major hindu festival in Tamil Nadu? Is this newly acquired popularity real or artifical? The five days of celebration require lots of money. Where do funds come from to put up these huge idols, pandals, pujas, aartis and all associated paraphernalia? Who are the persons leading the local mandals created for this purpose? Some groups seem to be pumping huge amounts of money for these celebrations. During the NDA rule, it was noticed that the maximum number of NGOs in India were religious ones aligned to the Hindutva ideology. These were also the ones that got maximum foreign contributions.
The state is also spending huge amounts on keeping security and providing infrastructure etc. In chennai alone, more than 12000 policemen were assigned to the job on that day. More than 500 bigs idols were immersed into the sea off the coast of Chennai as per this report in The New Indian Express, http://newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/article1238603.ece
The district administrations are reckless in alloting places to immerse these idols without taking into consideration the environmental impact of such moves. Salem Citizens Forum, a group in Salem has adopted a lake called Mookaneri and tried to develop it on ecologically balanced basis. However, the police allowed this lake to be used as a dumping place for Ganesha idols this year. Naturally, this shocked Salem People's Forum who felt their efforts would go to waste. So they decided to do something about it. Here's a report on an unique awareness raising protest in Salem undertaken by Piyush Sethia of the Salem Citizen's Forum....