Guidelines on idol immersions

CPCB says only natural materials as specified in ancient scriptures should be used

Published: Friday 18 October 2013

Photo by Shubhankar Basu

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines on idol immersions asks people to return to their vedic roots to save rivers from pollution.

This is what the guidelines say: “Idol worship has been practiced in India since ancient times. To worship gods and goddesses, natural products like milk, curd, ghee, coconut, betel nuts and water from the Ganga river have been used for ages. Idols were made of clay and then coloured with natural colours like turmeric. Religious scripts, mythology and rituals have attempted to drive the importance of preserving nature by adoring it through the centuries.”

Directions of the Bombay High Court a few years ago prompted CPCB to constitute a committee in 2009, which formulated the guildelines. The committee observed that in the present scenario, metals, ornaments, oily substances, synthetic colours, chemical are used to make, polish and decorate idols for worship and when these idols are immersed, our aquatic and surrounding environment get severely affected. Hence, there is urgent need to develop the guidelines for idol immersion.

During the second meeting of the committee held on December 19, 2009, at the CPCB headquarters in Delhi, the panel made the following observations:

  1. The action related to idol-making, its pooja and immersion should be in true sense of religious expression as representing gods and goddesses and natural essence depicted, with emphasis on use of maximum natural materials in pooja as stated in the old religious scripts.
  2. All pooja ingredients should be natural--like nariyal (cocunut), supari (betel nut), thread, leaves, flowers, fruits, milk, curd, honey, ghee, gangajal (Ganga water) etc. Even use of mango leaves can be encouraged for prasad distribution in place of metal spoon and paper plates.
  3. The birth story of Lord Ganesha (elephant-headed god) may be provided in the background of the guidelines for idol immersion, in which the importance and value of each and every natural thing has been highlighted, including soil and sweat, especially the event where sweat was used for birth of Lord Ganesha.
  4. Real pooja should be encouraged and the boasters (show off business or attention seekers) should be discouraged.
  5. Idols are innovation and expression of religious scripts and gods and goddesses, hence should not be made from toxic materials. Even in ancient time, ingredients used in pooja and making of idols were of natural origin.

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