An Un­holy Tradition

The en­vi­ron­ment was the toast of sev­eral puja pan­dals. But in the end, thou­sands of idols still lined up for im­mer­sion in rivers and lakes

Tehelka - - HIZBUL MUJAHIDEEN -

colours. But these have been ex­cep­tions. One guilt-stricken or­gan­iser, who strived to cre­ate aware­ness about pol­lu­tion in the Ganga, ad­mit­ted that their idols, too, were im­mersed in a lo­cal south Kolkata lake des­ig­nated by the ad­min­is­tra­tion. “Our huge Shiva struc­ture has not been im­mersed. We will ask the fire bri­gade to dis­man­tle it. But the rest of the idols had to be im­mersed. We didn’t have a choice be­cause that is the reli­gious tradition,” he ex­plained un­com­fort­ably.

Re­li­gion, though, does not de­mand im­mer­sion of idols in rivers and lakes. Priests agree that the cus­tom of tarpan — where hymns are chanted while the idol’s face is re­flected in wa­ter held in a saucer — com­pletes the im­mer­sion process. There is no bar on us­ing the same set of idols for sub­se­quent pu­jas. Yet, there are few tak­ers for non-clay idols for long-term use or do­ing away with the tradition of ORI­EN­TAL RELI­GIOUS tra­di­tions have al­ways wor­shipped na­ture. The Prithvi Sukta (earth hymn) in the Atharva Veda is pos­si­bly the most an­cient ex­pres­sion of en­vi­ron­men­tal­ism. With chang­ing times, soul­less cus­toms have re­placed those val­ues. To­day, we make mon­sters of mon­keys by feed­ing them to com­pen­sate for our sin. We tram­ple over and lit­ter our best forests on pil­grim­ages. We parade ele­phants, sac­ri­fice goats and dump ev­ery­thing — from mor­tal re­mains to daily puja flow­ers — in the rivers.

But if sprin­kling a few drops of Ganga wa­ter is be­lieved to have the pu­ri­fy­ing ef­fect of a dip in the river, why do we need more than a saucer­ful for the rit­ual of im­mer­sion?

• Holy mess Thou­sands of idols were dumped in the Hooghly last week

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