At a time when the issue of immersion of mud and paint idols in the sea has become a matter of debate due to the pollution caused by it, two families in Goa's Ponda District worship paper idols of Lord Ganesha, which is environment friendly and prevents pollution after its immersion.
Shenvi Khandeparkar and Shenvi Navelkar clans have not immersed the paper idols, but have kept it at home even after the conclusion of the festival.
Madhukar Shenvi, head of the Khandeparkar family, recounts the manner in which the tradition originated.
'All members of the Khandeparkar family went away from home to look for the idol of Lord Ganesha, which was stolen from the temple. They did not have any idol to worship during the festival, so they drew a sketch of Ganesha on paper and started worshipping it. The tradition is being followed since that time,' Madhukar said.
Usually, idols were made of Plaster of Paris and adorned with glittering clothes, tonnes of artificial jewellery and harmful chemical paint, it takes extremely long to degrade and play havoc with the region's marine life, killing large number of fish.
After opposition from environmental groups and state regulations, idol makers in Tamil Nadu have switched to sand and papier-mâché to make the idols, which easily dissolve in water, and the use of edible dyes, makes it harmless to fish.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had issued guidelines on use of material for making Idols. They stipulate idols should be made of clay instead of plaster of Paris.
Environmentalists say Plaster of Paris takes longer to dissolve, as also it reduces the oxygen level in water resulting in the death of marine life.
The CPCB also asked idol makers to discard all plastics and other insoluble ornaments put on the idols before the immersion in water bodies.
Ganesh Chaturti, which started from September 15, is hugely popular in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra, where thousands of idols are made during the festival season.