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Pragya Kapoor: The Sight Of Broken Idols Left Abandoned At Immersion Sites Spoil The Enthusiasm Of The Festival

'Kedarnath' and 'Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui' producer Pragya Kapoor, who is an active environmentalist, opens up about the ongoing Ganpati festival and how the immersion of idols in the oceans impacts the ecosystem, especially beaches and marine life.

Pragya Kapoor: The Sight Of Broken Idols Left Abandoned At Immersion Sites Spoil The Enthusiasm Of The Festival
Pragya Kapoor | Instagram
Pragya Kapoor: The Sight Of Broken Idols Left Abandoned At Immersion Sites Spoil The Enthusiasm Of The Festival
outlookindia.com
2021-09-11T14:48:01+05:30

‘Kedarnath’ and ‘Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui’ producer and an active environmentalist, Pragya Kapoor is one of the most well-read and also outspoken celebrities when it comes to talking about saving the planet. As the Ganesh festivities start, we all know the adverse effects it would have on the beaches, which would get invariably filled with half-decayed idols of the Lord.

In a candid chat with Prateek Sur from Outlook, Kapoor opens up about how she believes in leading by example, how she has been able to make her house and workplace into zero waste units, how she feels the culture of irresponsible celebration of festivals has started from the big cities, how she feels people should take into account the plight of stray animals during various festivals, and how everyone should always opt for eco-friendly idols. Excerpts from the conversation:

Ganpati festivities have just started. As an environmentalist, what would you suggest to people who’re celebrating?

Firstly, avoid large public gatherings for the well-being of you and your loved ones. The pandemic still looms over us and we cannot have a third wave coming at us at any cost. As for the celebrations, we must take into account the plight of stray animals that are exposed to incessant blaring noise throughout the festivities. Opt for eco-friendly idols and decorations. Choose bucket immersions instead of doing it in the sea to avoid harming the marine ecosystem. If you must dispose of garlands and other offerings, do it without the plastic bags.

While in the bigger cities the awareness for eco-friendly idols is there, but in the smaller towns, people are still not that open to eco-friendly idols. What would be your message to them?

I think it's wrong to blame them because they may not be fully familiar with these concepts at large. We're all collectively responsible for turning a well-meaning festival into an extravagantly elaborate celebration. So with our awareness also comes the important responsibility of leading by example. That being said, I think in smaller towns festivals were always celebrated with an innate simplicity. This surge of irresponsible celebration has emerged from the cities. Now that we've known better over the years we should spread the word and hope for this welcome trend to trickle down there once again with time.

You’re actively a part of beach clean-ups every now and then. How much of the beaches of the oceans get destroyed due to the immersion of the idols around the year during various festivals?

I mean the adverse impact is for all of us to see. It makes itself jarringly evident. Driving through the immersion sites, the sight of broken idols left abandoned spoils all the enthusiasm of the festival. These idols are painted with colours that are usually high in lead and mercury content, causing widespread harm to our marine life. We are all better than this. This is not what Bappa expects of us. But, I'm happy to see so many of the Pandals spreading important community messages across to people and serving the needy. We should all learn from such initiatives as that's where the crux of this festival lies.

World Clean-Up Day is around the corner. What’s the plan this year considering the beaches would be invariably filled with half-decayed idols of Lord Ganesha?

Keeping the festival in mind we have planned a beach clean-up drive on September 20 at Juhu beach. Our team of volunteers shall get on ground trying to salvage the situation to our best capacities.

As you’re a mother of two, are there any things that you do differently at home so that the kids get a sense of being environmentally sound?

It's been three years now since we have turned our home and workplace into zero waste units. We segregate our wastes and all of it goes for recycling. Instead of being a preachy mom, I try to lead by my actions as that's what kids tend to pick up. They are naturally a part of a host of important conversations surrounding our environment because of me. They're still very young but I surely hope it rubs off on them.

What’s the best part about being an environmentalist?

To me, it has to be the humbling effect that lingers on you every time you're out there trying to make a difference. Nature makes you realise how inconsequential and powerless you are to its force. But despite that lack of control, you continue waging your battles, that's the unrealistic power it has bestowed on us. I think that's a beautiful contradiction there. More importantly, it teaches you to be kind and gentle to everything around you. You're made aware of your modest place in this vast interconnected web of life.

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