New Delhi: In a first for the national capital, residents of Indraprastha Matri Mandir Nirman Society have shown that festivals can be environment-friendly and the celebrations can be used to spread awareness about issues that need urgent attention. The society opted to raise awareness about the increasing waste crisis in the country through their unique theme for Durga Puja pandal – ‘best out of waste’. The traditional idols of Durga and her four children – Ganesh, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Kartik have all been constructed using scrap material ranging from auto parts, tin sheets to discarded kitchen utensils, cylinders and so on. The decorations of the pandal too, have been done using trash materials like soft drink cans and discarded bulbs.
The brain behind the concept is Pinaki Ranjan Saha who spoke to NDTV about his inspiration,
Considering the huge footfall we get every year, we think of unique themes every time to draw visitor’s attention towards different issues. Last year, the theme was a tribute to newspapers owing to the digital media wiping the traditional newspapers which have been a staple for every household for years and years on end. For that theme, we made all the decor and idols using scrap newspapers last year. Similarly this year, we wish to raise awareness about the waste crisis being dealt with by not just India but the world, so we have made all the decorations and idols using recycled materials only.
Mr. Saha further explains that the entire set up was built using 220 kg of iron-based recycled material, approximately 250 soft drink cans, among other waste items.
We have given a new life to waste or dead products that can no longer be used. We sourced all the items from local junk dealers and it took us about a month to create the idols. We used mini gas cylinders as the base for the idols, cycle chains to make hair for Goddess Saraswati and Durga, for Ganesha trunk, we used a cross pipe whereas a cement-mixing bowl to make his belly. His rat was made using an oil flask and chose the disc breaks from motor-bikes to depict the aura of the idols.
Other items like bulbs, waste cans, bottles were used to decorate the pandal to align with the theme ‘best out of waste’. Additionally, to make the idols look larger than life, Mr Saha and his team of other residents used recycled paints to enhance the look of the idols but at the same time keep the raw recycled feel alive.
Today, waste is a massive issue only because there aren’t proper waste management channels in place. Even the people, who would wish to dispose of their waste efficiently, may not always have access to proper management facilities. Rest on the other hand, are simply not aware of the crisis of waste, says Mr. Saha. He added,
What we in our position can do is raise awareness, I personally believe that if we give a religious approach to any issue, people at least attempt to understand the point behind it. A simple example for this is putting up god’s posters in public places to stop people from open urination. We are god-fearing people! Why not use this fear to draw attention?
When it comes to people’s perception on accepting idols made of recycled materials, Mr. Saha says that they had to place a traditional, the smaller idol in ahead of the themed idol, keeping people’s sentiments in mind. However, he pointed out, that even the clay idols use some sort of scrap material like cloth pieces to keep them sturdy.
Our society members have accepted that there are two idols this year, one is the normal one to pray and the other is recycled. We need to evolve our perception. We shouldn’t care what the idol is made of.. Moreover, our society will try to auction or sell these idols, so that these get a permanent place for display, be it in a museum or a corporate house, instead of immersion which pollutes water bodies. We hope by next Durga Puja, we see many more of such creations, Mr Saha signed off.