Posted in September 2016

Don’t panic: AIIMS Director explains prevention and treatment for Chikungunya & Dengue

From: Press Trust of India (PTI) – Pallava’s Sunday column

Dated: Sept 18, 2016

Titled: No new mutant strain seen of Chikungunya in Delhi outbreak: AIIMS Director

By: Pallava Bagla

 

 

NEW DELHI: Large number of people are being afflicted by chikungunya, a debilitating viral disease, in the national capital region and some deaths are also being attributed to chikungunya. Till date, over 9000 cases have been reported from Karnataka while officially Delhi is reporting only 1724 cases, yet in Delhi there is a lot panic due to this viral disease. MC Misra, Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, dispels some of the notions held around the chikungunya upsurge in north India. He spoke to science writer Pallava Bagla.

Q: Is there a need to panic because of chikungunya and is it fatal? Why are people dying in Delhi?

A: It is an upsurge and not an epidemic of chikungunya in Delhi. There is no cause for panic due to chikungunya. It is a milder virus, there is no mutation, and the deaths that have been reported might not be only because of chikungunya.

It might be more related to other illnesses. Do not panic and think that everybody who gets chikungunya is going to die. One has seen chikungunya in south India for years and there has never been any panic.

Q) Is it a more virulent strain that is floating around in Delhi?

A: I would say there is no reason for panic because of chikungunya. I will say chikungunya is an even milder virus than dengue. It does not lead to the same phenomenon as dengue shock syndrome since such a thing does not happen with chikungunya. It is self-limiting disease.

The only other aspect of chikungunya is that it gives high fever when it begins which remains for 3-5 days and joint pain. I think joint pain is much more bothersome because of chikungunya and it would rarely kill if at all.

We cannot even blame chikungunya for the deaths as it there might be some associated medical illnesses in some people who are elderly, very young or immune suppressed which might lead to more virulence of the virus which generally happens in immune compromised people.

We used to hear about chikungunya affecting population in Kerala and Karnataka and we used to think that it happens only in that region. Only difference it has made is that this year we are seeing an upsurge of chikungunya instead of dengue. The tests that have been done so far and that have come out positive for chikungunya outnumber dengue.

Sixty per cent of the tested samples are positive for chikungunya; 2-3 per cent for dengue and rest are non-dengue, non-chikungunya. At times even these non-dengue, non- chikungunya virus can become extremely serious.

People have to understand that this is the season when it comes, post-monsoon there is an upsurge and then as the temperature cools down it goes away because the mosquito does not survive then.

Q: So how does a lay person tackle a chikungunya infection?

A: I would basically say follow a 3-H recipe. Home care, hydration and hydrotherapy. Meaning take rest at home, maintain nutrition and hydration and lastly hydro-therapy. It is not that one is putting some wet handkerchief on the forehead or on palms. It is best to cover the patient with very high fever with a good wet sheet to bring the temperature down.

If one thinks that only Paracetamol will bring down the fever that is not going to happen since Paracetamol will bring the fever down from 106 degrees to 104 degrees so if you really want the temperatures to come down which we want actually that it should come below 100 degrees as quickly as possible a wet sheet is the only remedy.

One needs to put a wet sheet over the patient and then put on the fan to a higher speed. This brings down the fever very rapidly and the ill effects of high temperature which can lead to organ damage can be easily avoided. The high fever itself can lead to organ damage, a high fever like 106 degrees if it remains for a considerable period of time can damage the organs.

Q: Why are people dying this year, chikungunya has been around for many years?

A: I think it is just that these people who died have come out positive for chikungunya also. There might be more than what meets the eye in these patients, they might be suffering from diabetes where any illness becomes much more severe. There could be compound infections, there could be both chikungunya and other type of virus so we don’t know.

We need to go into more depth whether it is only chikungunya. There is no mutation that has taken place. People should not panic. Chikungunya is happening to a large number of patients and they are recovering and getting better at home.

Except that joint pain may persist for weeks or some time even months. This generally takes time since if you look at the natural history of this virus it persists in the body for a considerable period of time.

Q: So you are not ruling out it to be a new strain but suggesting that it is unlikely to be a more virulent mutant?

A: It is unlikely to be a mutant, we spoke to virologists and they feel there is no mutation and there is no change in the DNA or RNA of this virus. So they feel it is a common chikungunya virus and they have not seen any mutation.

Q: Chikungunya and dengue both are mosquito-borne so if you control the mosquito you can control the disease?

A: Obviously, but that is something easier said than done because unless we control mosquito in our surroundings by avoiding water logging and accumulation.

We also need to take some more precautions if there are more number of mosquitoes in your vicinity then when walking or when sleeping one needs to cover ourselves, we need to put on full sleeved shirts. With the kind of construction activity under way it is very difficult to eradicate all possible sites for the breeding of this mosquito.

Q: But the aedes mosquito or the tiger mosquito is breeding inside our houses, how can the government have inspectors going into every bedroom?

A: People are not allowing the inspectors inside. The responsibility of getting rid of the mosquitoes is with every citizen to make sure that at least in their houses no breeding is taking place. If every citizen contributes it would go a long way in bringing the disease levels down.

Q: Is it necessary to get a test done for chikungunya?

A: I do not think there any real need to get a chikungunya test done, viral fevers happen in this season everybody is well aware. If by taking Paracetamol and using hydro-therapy if the fever does not come down then consult a local physician.

Only if a doctor asks then get a chikungunya test done. Even if chikungunya comes out positive or negative or even if dengue comes out positive or negative, the treatment remains the same. By a confirmatory test the treatment regimen will not change.

Q: Is there a vaccine against chikungunya?

A: There is as yet no vaccine against chikungunya but vaccine against dengue could be coming soon.

 

Suggested links

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/science/no-new-mutant-strain-seen-of-chikungunya-in-delhi-outbreak-aiims-director/articleshow/54388192.cms

http://www.dnaindia.com/health/report-no-new-mutant-strain-seen-of-chikungunya-in-delhi-outbreak-aiims-director-pallava-bagla-2256161

 

 

 

PALLAVA BAGLA

Photo-journalist

 

Email: pallava.bagla@gmail.com

Twitter: pallavabagla

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pallava.bagla

Skype: pallava.bagla

 

Telephone: +91 11 2271 2896

Mobile: +91 98103 01400

Address: 33 Samachar Apartments, Mayur Vihar – I, Delhi 110091, India

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Posted in September 2016

Attributing Life

झांकती इमारतों के बीचे से…
निकलती ये उदास गलि..
ऐसे बेचैन रहती है सारे दिन..
जैसे मानो इंतज़ार में डूबी पलकें…

धोबी चाचा कपड़ो की लकीरें को सुकून देते सारा दिन…
सब्जी वाला आवाज़ लगा जाता रोज़ शाम को..
बच्चों के खेलने की आवाज़ भी गूंजती है कई बार…
गली मगर उदास ही रहती….

गली के चौथे मकान की दूसरी मंजिल पर..
मौलवी साहब रहते हैं…
पुराने बहुत,
तीस साल का रिश्ता है उनका इस गली से…
पूछा उनसे एक रोज़ इस गली की कहानी….

तो मालूम हुआ, यह गली भी कभी खुश थी…
गुनगुनाता था एक नीम का पेड़ भी यहाँ…
और फिर कुछ इमारतों ने छीन ली इससे इसकी धूप ….
उस बात को अब सत्रह साल हो गए..
गली अबतक क़ैद है उदास कमरे में….

 

Ashirbad S Raha

Communication for Development (C4D) Practitioner

International Committee of the Red Cross, Asia and the Pacific Policy Society, Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU.

Friend Vatavaran

A sensitive human being and a sensitive poet. The above poem is based on his experience in east Delhi.

Vatavaran logo

Posted in September 2016

GREENING

Greening encompasses planting different types of plants for different venues. Planting of 3 to 4 year old saplings of trees, along the roads sides. Wasteland reclamation plants in the waste land areas. Medicinal plants at pre-selected special patches.

Along with planting watering, fertilizing and weeding of the planted saplings for proper growth is the basic prerequisite.

Greening should be a collaborative project with the RWA’s in colonies, Government bodies if its on Government land , Corporate Social Responsibility Project for well known   parks , landfill sites etc.

Greening has to be a long term and multi prolonged event/activity/project/.

Greening invariably enhances the biodiversity of the area and reduces air and noise pollution.

Vatavaran’s experience with greening:

Greening of the ridge

Introduction

Ridge can be greened with much greater ease, if the right kind of scrubland vegetation is chosen. The secret lies in choosing the correct species, and planting it at the appropriate time and following the method of ‘greening without watering’.

The water retention capability of dry land is very limited. Hence it is important to choose a species, which not only holds the water but also make the surrounding soil moist. Scrub should also be inter grown with those varieties of trees, which need very little care.

Unlike most trees, indigenous species do not require very deep ‘gaddas’ or pits for planting. A foot or so is enough. During rains, the roots will collect water, and the young plants immediately absorb it. As the plant takes roots, it naturally beings to survive in the arid environment. It also starts to increase the biomass of its vicinity. The soil gets enriched, Insects and worms come, followed by birds and their nests. Slowly a complex ecological chain is formed, ranging from micro organisms to mammals.

Time of plant

All plantations must be carried out during the monsoon season after one or two heavy rains. On an average in the first month of plantation the survival in all the areas is above 90% but as the weather changes from monsoon to dry, the survival rate declines to 75 percent. During December and January due to extremely cold weather the survival rate can come down to 60 percent if utmost care is not taken.

I have observed many agencies under taking mass plantations on or June – the World Environment day. This is ridiculous as June is a hot dry month, thus it is most difficult time of the year to make the saplings survive.

Method of plantation

Mud bunds and trenches along the natural slopes of the areas help us harvest rain water during monsoons. Vatavaran opts for trench, batch plantation instead of individual plantation as it saved labour and water utilization. The problematic soils with too many stones or gravel should be enriched by adding Bio-Manure or organic matter. This changes the soil in its pH, EC and Organic Carbon. These additives improved soil conditions as indicated by Ca/Na ratio.

Use of organic manure made by the Cleaning Brigades leads to excellent survival rate as has been evident during our greening operations in Vasant Kunj and Mahipalpur Army Complex. The trees grew healthier too. If there is an inherent problem of termites attacking the trees, this should be tackled by extensive replacement of top soil with organic manure mixed with ‘Neem Ki Khali’.

Species selection

Soil condition in terms of nutrients available is directly related to the litter types from different canopies. Overall reduction in pH, EC, and increase in Organic Carbon, K and P is brought by decomposition and mineralization of litter. Different tree canopies have different capabilities of improving the soil due to different amount of humus deposition followed by the decomposition process leading to soil amelioration.

Species selection for plantation on Ridge should belong to the area as they have high establishment rate, a good root system, a moderate growth rate, good recovery from damage and could produce sufficient regeneration.

As the focus of the plantation program must be environmental conservation, the species selected must have the qualities to improve the (1) eco-balance, (ii) microclimate, (iii) soil and water conservation,  (iv) with stand  adverse climatic conditions and (v) not introduce undesirable pests in the area.

The recommended species for greening of Delhi Ridge are Acacia levcophloea (Ronj), Acacia nilotica (Babul), Acacia modesta (Phulahi), Albizialebbek (Kala sins), Adhatoda vasica (Bansa), Balanitesroxburghii (Hingot), Butea monosperma (Flame of the forest), Capparis decidua (Karir), Cassia fistula (Amaltas), Cordiadichotoma (Lasoora), Delbergia sissoo (Shisham), Erythringsuberosa (Dhol Dhak), Ehretialaevis (Desi Papri), Holarrhenaantidysenterica (Kurchi), Pithecellobiumdulce (jangalJallebi), Terminalliabelerica (Bahera), Zizyphus Munmularis (ben), PiluAnogeissuspendula (Dhoy).

 

A good example of a shrub which grows as under growth is Bansa,(Adhatoda vasica). Its roots have the capability to minimize water runoff. It also has medicinal anti-cough properties and used in cough syrups. Another example is Ber, (Ziziphusmaurtina) which also provides fresh, sweet, pungent fruit rich in vitamin C.

 

Tree Hingot, (Balanitesaegyptiaca), does have sharp thorns but that is what protects it from being eatern by cattle thus is recommended where grazing is prevalent. It also has a fragrant greenish white flower, and its fruit pulp is an antidote for whooping cough. The woody portion of the fruit yields a powder used for making of fine cork and fire works, whilst the tree’s wood is hard enough to be used as a cobbler’s sharpener.

– Dhakis a traditional Indian tree and it adds a splash of color to the drab, dry stretch arid Ridge land. During spring Dhak (Butea monosperma) sprouts bright orange, flame coloured flowers, giving the tree its more popular name – ‘the flame of the forest’. The flowers provide food for many birds. The petals of the flower are crushed to form the ‘kesu’ dye used during tradition Holi. Its seeds give clear oil and its stem exudes a gum known for its astringent qualities. The hard leathery leaves can be stitched together to form plates. Its trunk can supply lac.

Babul (Acacia nilotica),is an other extremely hardy tree, which needs very little moisture to grow in. An evergreen, it closes its leaves during the hotter parts of the day to prevent loss of moisture, and its lower trunk is covered with long, silvery white thorns, again to prevent cattle from grazing on.

The uneven, cracked, dark brown bark oozes a gum, which is used for making of glue.

However areas of the Ridge along the main roads with heavy traffic must have trees with medium to large sized leaves. Compound leaves of Babool are not efficient trappers of dust and suspended particulate matter.

Dhoyis a small tree which starts branching from base. Its ash color stem, vermilion colored buds, yellow flowers and red fruit make it very attractive.

And then there are trees with fragrance. While Rong and Shirish have pale yellow flowers with mild fragrance, pilu’s greenish yellow flowers are sweet smelling. Amaltas with its sunshine yellow flowers in dropping clusters has fascinated poets and writers over the centuries. A look at a blooming Amaltas can cheer even the most distressed souls.

 

Experiments to now characteristic of some ridge tree species

 

Three different trees i.e. Dhak, Kikar and Semal within a radius of 0.5 km were selected in the South Central Ridge to find out the size of the leaves in relation to a tree with small canopy. On one particular day, the temperature was recorded under each of them simultaneously.

  1. Maximum temperature was recorded under the tree species (kikar) with small leaves and small canopy.
  2. Trees (Dhak and Semal) with a small canopy but broad leaves had 0.5°C less temperature than a tree with small leaves and small canopy.
Tree Canopy Size Size of Leaves Temperature (°C)
Dhak
Kikar
Semal
Small
Small
Small
Broad
Small
Broad
31°C
31.5°C
31°C

 

SUITABLE SPECIES FOR GREENING THE RIDGE

                Geneus Species                                                                 (Common Name)
  1. Acaciaferruginea                                                             (Phulahi)
  2. Acacia Senegal                                                                 (Katha)
  3. Acacia leucophloea                                                        (Ronj)
  4. Acacia nilotica                                                                 (Babul)
  5. Acacia lebbeck                                                                 (Siras)
  6. Anogeissuspendula                                                        (Dhoy)
  7. AIbizziaamara                                                                  (Sins)
  8. Albizzia procera                                                               (Sins)
  9. Albizziaadoratissima                                                     (Siris)
  10. Albizzialebbek                                                                 (kalaSiris)
  11. Balanitesroxburghii                                                       (Hingot)
  12. Butea monosperma                                                        (Dhak)
  13. Cassia fistula                                                                    (Amaltas)           Tree
  14. Ehretialaevis                                                                     (Papri)
  15. Flacourtiaindia                                                                 (Khatai)
  16. Feroniaelephantum                                                        (Kaith)
  17. Ficustsiela
  18. Ficus benghalensis                                                           (Bargad)
  19. Ficus glomerata                                                                 (Gular)
  20. Grewiaasiatica                                                                    (Phalsa)
  21. Gnewiatenax                                                                       (Ramchana)
  22. Grewiabetulaefolia                                                             (Ramchana)
  23. Wrightiatrinctoria                                                             (Kurchi)
  24. Propopisspicigera                                                              (Chonkra)
  25. Zizyphus mauntiana                                                         (Ber)
  26. Cappans decidua                                                                 Shrubs
  27. Capparis sepiaria
  28. Cordiadichotoma                                                                (Lasoora)
  29. Cordiarothii                                                                          (Gondi)
  30. Carissa spinarum                                                                (Caronda)
  31. Diospyroscordifolia                                                            (Kendu)
  32. Diospyrosmontana                                                             (Kendu)

 

Vatavaran believes that each colony must have a colony forest . A park can be converted into a forest . Vatavaran worked on giving forest character to Mahavir park.

 

From parks to forest

Though Delhi has over a hundred public parks, tree lined avenues and thousands of mericured lawns but, Delhi’s forest cover had been reducing at a rate of 1% per year since 1940.

Result : the oxygen release is decreasing. One Sq.km. of dense tree area emanates approximately 3 tonnes of °2 while the same area of park releases just one ton of 02. 1 Sq.km. of dense tree cover can absorb 2.5 tons carbon dioxide while to do the same job a golf course or a manicured lawn would have to be 10 times more in size.

Vatavaran selected Mahavir Park on Ridge as a model and did an extensive study on its existing character and how giving it a forest character would benefit the environment and people of Delhi.

PARK TO FOREST TABLE

Parameters Existing
Mahavir Park
Proposed
Mahavir Forest
Temp. in June

Noise LevelO2 generation

 

CO2 absorption

 

Budget

 

Pollutant dust absorption

Water requirement

 

Fertilizer requirement

 

Man power requirement

42°C
10-40 dB1 ton I Sq.km. area

 

1.7               tons/sq.km area

 

13 lakhs

 

6 gm/24 hrs./10 M2

 

2 tubewells]

 

45 quintals

 

43 employees

39°C
0-10      dB3 tons I Sq.km. area

 

4.2 tons I sq.km. area

 

50 thousand

 

11 gms/24 hrs/10 H2

 

NIL

 

NIL

 

4 employees

Dr. Ms. Iqbal Malik
Vatavaran logo
Founder & Director
www.vatavaran.org

 

Posted in September 2016

Why Zero Landfill Option?

Land fills not only take away land on mother earth but also pollute the air, water and land. Landfills lead to infrastructure disruption, such as damage to access roads by heavy vehicles. Pollution of local roads and water courses from wheels on vehicles when they leave the landfill is significant. Contamination of groundwater or aquifers or soil contamination occurs, as well. Even engineered liners have a lifespan, but eventually, every landfill liner will leak, allowing the leachate to contaminate the groundwater. Methane is naturally generated by decaying organic wastes in a landfill and is a potent greenhouse gas, and a danger because it is flammable and potentially explosive.  Landfills attract vultures and vectors such as rats, and flies which can cause infectious diseases besides wildlife disruption, dust, odor, noise pollution, and reduced local property values.

The more waste a individual/institution /industry produces the higher the responsibility of formulating zero landfill program. This program would entail:

(i) Moving towards decentralized municipal solid waste program where every residential colony ,educational  institution, office, restaurant , office takes  complete responsibility for the management waste it produces and no waste from these areas ever go to any landfill .

(ii)Introducing waste containers which are made from earth friendly materials are aesthetic, last a lifetime  and are suitable for various waste streams.

(iii) Segregating the waste at source ,   analyze the various waste streams and volumes produced and create interventions to reduce it as much as possible. For example reducing every gram /mm of input materials be it raw food for home or cafeteria, clothing for one’s dress or commercial line, paper in personal and professional spheres , or the size of steel sheets used for stamping parts in an industry.

(iv) Reusing the waste produced. Waste from one stream can easily become raw material for other stream. Food and green waste becomes raw material for composting. Details covered in an earlier blog. Waste paper and Clothing waste both from home and commercial places become raw materials for hand made recycling industry. In industries  reusing  the sand from aluminum and ferrous metal casting operations again & again instead of sending it to landfill every time. (The sand being mixed with some binders , additives cannot be used for much else).

(vi) A well  designed Zero Landfill program would create less demand for the services of recyclers.

(v)Moving towards green packaging by eliminating every bit of extra packaging materials, replacing packaging to bio-degradable, eliminating hazardous packaging completely. Details on green packaging have been covered in an earlier blog.

Dr. Ms. Iqbal Malik
Vatavaran logo
Founder & Director
www.vatavaran.org

 

Posted in September 2016

Indian Festivals Getting Corrupted

India a land of plenty, culturally diverse and fervent society, celebrates various holidays and festivals with fervor. India is also a multi religion and multi cultural country and its festivals bond every one. All festivals are enjoyed by all religions. All festivals mean gaiety, good food, new clothes and good time.

There are three national holidays in India: Independence Day on 15 August, Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday on 2 October, and Republic Day on 26 January. Very sadly the masses are not seen celebrating these important days as their festivals.

Popular religious festivals

Sikh festivals: Guru Nanak Jayanti and Vaisakhi;

Hindu festivals: Makar SankrantiMaha ShivratriJanmashtami,Saraswati       PujaDiwaliGanesh ChaturthiHoliDurga Puja, Dussehra;

Islamic festivals: Eid ul-FitrEid al-Adha, Milad un-Nabi, Muharram;

Christian festivals: Christmas, Good Friday

Jain festivals: Mahavir JayantiParyushanare

Year Round Festivities

June is the only month without any well-known festival. Some months have a pair of festivals. Paired festivals are quite alike though celebrated by different groups.  Diwali and Gurpurab are just a fortnight apart. Technically Diwali is a Hindu festival and Gurpurab a Sikh one.   One is on no moon night and the second on full moon in the same cycle. In prayers are held, rich festive food is consumed, places are lit. Durga Puja and Ganesh Utsav some times even overlap or are one after the other. In both clay idols of the relevant deity are brought home or special pandals are set up for these most important events for Bengalis and Maharastrians respectively.  Collective prayers and cultural programs are held in both.

The two well-known and well-respected festivals of Muslims are Eid ul Fitr in August and Eid E Milan in January both concentrating on prayers and sharing with community.   Buddhists have their   Bodh Purnima once again a beautiful prayer based festival. Sikhs have their main festival – the birth of their first teacher Guru Nanak a prayer based and free food to all festival.

 

Corrupted Festivals

 All festivals were always green, earth friendly and were meant to bring humans closer to each other’s and to other life forms. I do not know when exactly many festivals changed from pious to toxic. Probably it was a slow process. As and when a festival became a money minting business the standards eroded. Unknowingly the simple masses got entrapped into the newfound ways of celebrations. Then came the invasion of China in our most popular festivals – Diwali & Holi. Chinese lights for Diwali, Chinese spray guns and water pumps on Holi besides the related paraphernalia. Another type of erosion of our cultural values was serving of the food as Prasad  -an integral part of most festivals in thermacol or plastic bowls and/or plates and/or glasses. Even outside Sai Baba Mandir where food is served very frequently but alas leaving behind a hill of toxic garbage.

 Diwali got corrupted over the years as a wealth showing festivals. Many families burst crackers worth    many thousands utmost reaching lakhs which is responsible for acute air and noise pollution, generation of garbage. In addition during the making and selling of crackers the laid stipulations are overlooked. Crackers are burst on Gurpurab also but thank God they have not gone out of hand.

Durga puja & Ganesh Utsav-. The final journey of the idols is the water body of the area be it sea, river, ponds etc. In each case polluting the water with the chemicals from the paint on the idols and non-biodegradable plastic or toxic thermacol decorations. The clay settles at the bottom of the water body raising its level thus making it shallower.

Christians have their big day in December a prayer based and social festival. Only problems which cropped up in this beautiful festival is the use of either plastic Christmas trees or cutting of numerous healthy Fir trees.

 

Dr. Ms. Iqbal Malik
Vatavaran logo
Founder & Director
www.vatavaran.org

 

Posted in September 2016, Uncategorized

Ganesha Chaturthi

The great Ganesha festival, also known as ‘Vinayak Chaturthi’ or ‘Vinayaka Chavithi’ is celebrated by Hindus around the world as the birthday of Lord Ganesha. It is observed during the Hindu month of Bhadra (mid-August to mid-September) and the grandest and most elaborate of them, especially in the western India state of Maharashtra, lasts for 10 days, ending on the day of ‘Ananta Chaturdashi’.

 

The Regular Grand Celebrations

 A life-like model of Lord Ganesha is made 2-3 months prior to the day of Ganesh Chaturthi. The size of this idol keeps increasing every year and may go up to 25 feet.

It is placed on raised platforms in elaborately decorated outdoor tents for people to view and pay their homage. The priest, usually clad in red silk dhoti and shawl, invokes life into the idol amidst the chanting of mantras. This ritual is called ‘pranapratishhtha’. After this the ‘shhodashopachara’ (16 ways of paying tribute) follows. Coconut, jaggery, 21 ‘modakas’ (rice flour preparation), 21 ‘durva’ (trefoil) blades and red flowers are offered. The idol is anointed with red unguent or sandal paste (rakta chandan). Throughout the ceremony, Vedic hymns from the Rig Veda and Ganapati Atharva Shirsha Upanishad, and Ganesha stotra from the Narada Purana are chanted.

For 10 days, from Bhadrapad Shudh Chaturthi to the Ananta Chaturdashi, Ganesha is worshipped. On the 11th day, the image is taken through the streets in a procession accompanied with dancing, singing, to be immersed in a river or the sea symbolizing a ritual see-off of the Lord in his journey towards his abode in Kailash while taking away with him the misfortunes of all men. All join in this final procession shouting “Ganapathi Bappa Morya, Purchya Varshi Laukariya” (O father Ganesha, come again early next year). After the final offering of coconuts, flowers and camphor is made, people carry the idol to the river to immerse it.

Impact –

Last year over 300 idols were immersed in the Yamuna after the festival. This included around 36 tonnes of paints and other chemicals. The offering also had around 15 tonnes of flowers, leaves, coconut husks, clothes and other puja material.  There are over 300 registered  associations in the city. This year over 1000 idols will be immersed into the Yamuna. Idols are immersed in Okhla and Wazirabad.

According to Central Pollution Board ‘s study the immersion of idols leads to an addition of various pollutants, including dissolved oxygen, Bio-chemical oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand, conductivity, turbidity, total dissolved solids and metals, to the river.

The Central Pollution Control Board has made new guidelines on immersion of idols. It is planning to develop separate ponds for idol immersion.  Idols should be small as they would dissolve faster. Non-degradable chemical dyes are banned. Prior to immersion, materials such as flowers, vastras and decorating items should be removed and collected for recycling.

Vatavaran way  to celebrate this festival-

Make idols of mango, peepal leaves or neem tree which is also considered  lucky. Placing them on the door can attract positive energy and good luck. Ganesha idol made up of cow dung is one of the luckiest statues you can ever have. This type of idol is helpful in eradicating sorrows and attracting good vibes.

As per vastu, keeping Ganesha idol made up of turmeric can change your destiny without much effort. The presence of this idol in your house is highly auspicious.

Would be to meditate on the stories connected with Lord Ganesha. Pray with faith and devotion that He may remove all the obstacles that you experience on the spiritual path. Worship Him at home.

Feel His Presence in the idol you have created , pray , meditate, tell stories about HIM  and when the time comes to say good bye to it immerse it in clean water.

Importance of Visarjan

Vinayaka Chaturthi or Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations end with the immersion or Visarjan of Ganapati idol in water. The form changes to formless.It is time to accept the eternal cosmic law that which took form has to become formless again . It is a never ending cycle ( Chakra).

Each year Ganesha arrives to teach us that forms change but the Supreme Truth remains the same. Body perishes but Brahman residing in it remains constant. This body becomes energy for another but the source of energy is the same. Bliss is achieved when we realize this.The act also symbolizes Moksha or liberation.

Each year Ganesha arrives to teach us that forms change but the Supreme Truth remains the same. Body perishes but Brahman residing in it remains constant. This body becomes energy for another but the source of energy is the same. Bliss is achieved when we realize this.

 

Dr. Ms. Iqbal Malik
Vatavaran logo
Founder & Director
www.vatavaran.org

 

Posted in August 2016, September 2016, Uncategorized

Welcoming the Age of Introspection

I have passed that age when birthdays evoke a bulk of emotions- excitement, anxiety, curiosity, happiness. I don’t even remember who wished me, and more importantly who did not (it helps you in keeping a headcount of the people invited for the birthday party).

But now I’ve come to an age of overall consciousness, mind you I’m not always grateful for it. It makes me reflect upon my actions, and actions of those around me.

One such action which brought itself to my attention was that of gift-wrapping. As a kid I used to fret over both the gift and it’s wrapping paper. Now I realise that if I wrap a diamond necklace in an old box and a newspaper, the value of it won’t reduce. On the contrary, a twisted flavour of surprise might be beheld.

If a newspaper seems too extreme, then give my next idea a try. On my bestie’s birthday this year, I wrapped the gift in a plain white sheet of paper, embroidered with my best of wishes. I could add any quote which would suit the occasion, thus making it personalised. Won’t a handcrafted wrap (or a card, for that matter) reflect your emotions and hard work  better than what someone else crafted in a factory?

After all, if we give it a thought, a gift wrap is not what’s precious, neither is the gift at times, but the thought that went behind it.

plastic gift wrap
Picture Credits: recyclenation.com

We have come to the time where each and every denizen of this planet needs to give thought to their actions. We have been created globalized, in the sense that each of our actions affect the other person in this globe. Even our small actions of gift-wrapping, using plastic wraps which in turn are non-biodegradable affects someone else’s access resources. And mind you, the affected are not of the present generation only. These thoughtless actions will amplify and reflect themselves in the lives of our successive generations. We are snatching away resources and opportunities from them. I present to you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become the Guardians of the only planet with chocolate, i.e., Earth.

My prayer is to not be selfish, but give. Because the hand that gives is above the hand that takes.

give and take
Picture Credits: creativemarket.com

Mahima Bobin

Intern,

Vatavaran NGO