Collector notifies select water bodies for the ritual
Restrictions imposed by Collector L. Subramanian on ‘Vinayagar Chathurthi’ celebrations scheduled for next month have evoked mixed reactions with some people welcoming his move and others calling it “excessive interference in religious matters.”
A list of 13 directions issued by the Collector with regard to the celebrations this year includes an appeal to the people to avoid using Vinayagar idols made of Gypsum Plaster, popularly known as Plaster of Paris, and coloured with synthetic paints.
He fears that immersing idols made of Gypsum Plaster in water bodies would increase the salt content in water and lead to skin diseases and digestion problems for those who consume it.
The harmful chemicals in synthetic paints are also believed to pollute water bodies. Therefore, he had made a fervent appeal to use only idols made of clay, waste paper or timber.
He also notified a list of over 23 water bodies in the district and ordered that no idol could be immersed in any water body except those notified by him.
“If any of the notified water bodies happened to be dry on the day of immersion (September 9), those who take the idols in procession should leave the idols in places earmarked near the water bodies. The local body officials shall dispose of the idols,” the Collector has said.
Welcoming the restrictions, C. Anand Raj, Executive Director of Equal Right, a non-governmental organisation here, says that such measures were necessary in view of the water quality in the district having deteriorated from bad to worse in recent years.
He points out that a research paper published recently in the International Journal of Engineering and Advance Technology had concluded that a study of the chemical parameters of ground water samples from seven taluks of Madurai district showed abnormally high levels of potassium content.
One of the reasons cited for such unusually high levels of potassium was the discharge of industrial effluent which permeate into groundwater.
The paper also pointed out that the water samples of the district showed that they were more suitable for domestic and agricultural purposes than drinking.
“In such circumstances, it is better to take preventive action as the Collector had done now to control water pollution than to indulge in corrective action after the water gets polluted. I feel that he should go a step further and order checking of quality of water in the district at least twice a year,” Mr. Raj adds.
On the other hand, R. Somasundaram, Madurai district president of the Viswa Hindu Parishad, says that he is not against restrictions imposed on usage of idols made of Plaster of Paris and coloured with synthetic paints as they were known water pollutants.
“However, I strongly object to the notification of select water bodies for immersing the idols. The devotees should be allowed to immerse the idols in any water body. Or else, there would be chaos with too many idols being taken in procession to select places.”
“Further, asking us to abandon the idols if there is no water in the notified water bodies is against religious beliefs. The Chathurthi celebrations are not complete without immersing the idols in water. We consider it to be a bad omen if the idols are not immersed,” he pointed out. He said there should be no excessive police interference in religious celebrations.
“It is strange that one is required to seek police nod even to worship God,” he quipped.