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Faith in change : Evolving mindsets towards the Ganesh Chaturthi festival

Over the last few decades the Ganesh Chaturthi festival has witnessed much change as awareness about pollution increases; the results of a survey done in Pune reveal a willingness to go the extra mile to make it a zero waste celebration . 

As part of the Punaravartan campaign initiated by eCoexist Foundation a survey was conducted in 2022, during the Ganesh festival to check about the levels of awareness around the ecological impact of the festival. The survey had 1569 responses and was conducted by students of the Fergusson College by visiting people’s homes in Pune city. 

The survey had an extensive questionnaire that checked if people were aware of the ecological impacts, if they were willing to change their choices and if they would be open to the reuse and recycling materials used for the festival so as to minimize waste. The following were the highlights of the data that was collected:

  1. A large majority of the respondents know the material of the idol they use. ( 85%)
  2. When asked about the ecological impact of the festival, 60% of the respondents clearly said Yes , 11% were clear that there was no impact and those who were unclear added up to a total of 28% . This indicates that the education and awareness raising work is still required. 
  3. Only 38% of the respondents said that they did make the idols themselves which means that the larger majority is simply buying the idol from artisans.
  4. 77.4% said they preferred to celebrate individually – this may be also because the nature of the sarvajanik festival shifts the focus from a more spiritual religious event to a social celebration .
  5. 42.8% chose to do the immersion at home followed closely by a tank in the locality. Bringing the idol out of the house and symbolically offering it back seems to be important to the farewell of the idol. Similarly some people still prefer to make the pilgrimage to the river banks even if they choose to put it into a tank there whereas a concerning 15% are still choosing to immerse their idols in a natural waterbody.
  6. Nearly 40% of the respondents state that they don’t know what happens to their idols after immersion. 22.8% believe they are all out into the river and 28% believe they stay in the waters. Only around 9 % have some inkling about the idols being sent to mines outside city limits.
  7. 46.5% correctly identified the ban on POP yet the majority balance either did not know or thought that there was no such ban.
  8. 56.8% correctly identified that plastic and thermocole has been banned –  the remaining 44% is still unsure of the ban. 
  9. When asked if they would be open to reuse and recycling of the materials, 68% of the respondents replied positively – this is a very encouraging shift and around 24% of the balance are somewhat open to the idea. 9.2% refused the idea of recycling and this resistance needs to be studied and understood better.

A more detailed correlation of the attitudes along with the rituals practised further revealed where there may be resistance to change. 

Knowledge of the material of the idol, knowledge of the ban on POP reveals a willingness to recycle, whereas households that still prefer to immerse their idols in natural waterbodies were less likely to agree to recycling. The data collected was analysed by Dr Sonya Sachdeva. 

The efforts of the Pune Municipal Corporation to barricade the natural water bodies to prevent immersion needs to be supported by raising more awareness about the ban on immersion of POP. Alternative materials that are biodegradable as well as an insistence on home immersions can help us move towards a totally zero waste Ganesh Chaturthi celebration . 



For further inquiries please contact.

Manisha Sheth Gutman 

Director, eCoexist Foundation 


Vrunda Shete 

Director, eCoexist Foundation

Project Lead, Punarvartan