Impact Of Festivals On The Environment


India is known as the land of festivals. Festivals not only celebrate changing seasons but also harvest, reconciliation and the birth anniversaries of saints, gurus, prophets, and to honour gods and goddesses. The Indian culture is known to be diverse, and people have various practices such as fasting, abstinence, etc., where it comes to their faith. While we look forward to celebrating festivals with great pomp and show, spare a moment to go through this article before going out to buy firecrackers this Diwali.

Noise Pollution
The biggest culprits of noise pollution in our country are blaring loudspeakers, firecrackers, and loud musical instruments. With the emergence of urbanisation,people in metro cities have to grapple with
the problem of noise pollution in their daily lives. Any kind of public celebration, especially during festivals, only aggravates this lurking issue. A study conducted by World Health Organisation (WHO) confirms that noise pollution is not only a nuisance to the environment, but it also causes a considerable threat to public health. During festivals like Janmashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja, Navratri, Dussehra, and Diwali time and again, citizens have violated the permissible noise limit which is currently set by the supreme court to 55 decibels in the day and 45 decibels at night. Although local authorities might try their best to maintain decorum during festivals, we as responsible citizens should also be careful when contributing to noise pollution.Despite being worldly-wise, we do not take the health impacts of incessant exposure to such high-decibel sounds seriously. The side effects of noise pollution affect toddlers and children and bring health issues in adults like hypertension, sleep disturbance, tinnitus, and acute hearing loss. Moreover, excessive noise can be alarming and fatal in some cases to animals.

Water Pollution
Every year during the Ganesh festivities followed by Durga Puja, immersion areas are littered with many flowers and parts of idols. There is a huge mess created by the bursting of crackers too. These idols are made of materials like plaster of Paris, and the paint used on these idols has a high level of mercury and lead. This hugely increases the toxin levels in the water bodies after immersion days. Eventually, these toxins enter the food chain and affect the marine ecosystem and biodiversity. Many water bodies are saturated with paint, toxic synthetic materials, and plastic waste that is carelessly thrown in.

Air pollution
Every year during festivals like Diwali or even during private celebrations and ceremonies, firecrackers are burned, leading to the release of toxic gases and severe air pollution. There is a yearly increase in the level of Respirable Suspended Particulate Material (RSPM) in the air due to the bursting of firecrackers. RSPM are minute particles that are proven to contribute to various health issues such as asthma and bronchitis.

Dry Waste
During and after festivals, a huge amount of dry waste is generated. During festivals like Diwali, the dry waste increases due to firecrackers since there is a lack of space for it to be discarded and other neglected constraints. Another concerning factor is the amount of waste, including fruits, flowers,
incense, and camphor discarded from pooja pandals. Apart from individuals who need to be more mindful of the environment, local government bodies need to take a meticulous approach towards solid waste disposal.

Persistent social activism is required to educate people to switch to eco-friendly methods of celebration. Across the country, craftsmen are making an effort to use ecofriendly methods to make idols. For example, the idol makers in Kumartuli, in Kolkata, took steps this year to curb toxic waste levels by using paints devoid of lead, mercury, and chromium to embellish the idols. As a result, many people across the country are more aware and are switching to eco-friendly idols and décor for their celebrations. However, more such initiatives need to be taken all across the country.

Festivals are among the most important parts of our life. It is believed that people forget their past differences, and festivals mark a new beginning for them. Metaphorically speaking, festivals are a
source of love, joy, peace, and happiness in our lives. However, we must at the same time keep in mind our responsibility towards the environment when enjoying these festivals. There currently is a growing consciousness around our impact on the environment; hopefully, this will lead to industries as well as individuals taking positive steps in reducing their carbon footprint.