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
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