Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 14 (PTI) Cutting across religious lines, major festivals in Kerala are going eco-friendly as the state government is strictly implementing its green protocol policy.
The upcoming Maramon Convention, considered to be the largest Christian convention in Asia, Attukal Pongala festival here, in which lakhs of women devotees participate, and the traditional Uroos at Beemapally near here are among the major festivals to be held according to the green protocol.
If everything goes as per plan, the Thrissur Pooram, known as the mother of all festivals in Kerala, will also go green, official sources said.
The Suchitwa Mission, the state nodal agency for sanitation, has already started discussions with religious heads and peoples’ representatives to make the festivals eco- friendly.
The green protocol was adopted in the recently concluded Sivagiri pilgrimage, Parumala Church fest, Sabarimala Makaravilakku festival and Malayattoor pilgrimage under the aegis of the mission.
As part of the initiative, awareness drives would be carried out among devotees and representatives of religious institutions on the need for avoiding plastic items during festivities, Suchitwa Mission officials said.
The use of eco-friendly utensils would be promoted in place of disposable ones which lead to accumulation of piles of non-degradable waste after major festivals.
Devotees would be urged to bring cloth bags instead of plastic ones, they said.
“Piles of non-degradable waste and food waste had been a major concern during the festivals in the state,” Suchitwa Mission Director (Operations), C V Joy told PTI.
“Our objective is to reduce piles of garbage by sensitising devotees and promoting green practices among them,” he said.
The mission has already begun its elaborate preparations for the Pongala festival, which is known for the mass participation of women devotees, falling on March 2 this year.
To keep disposable plates and glasses at bay, the mission will soon open counters at various points around the Attukal Devi Temple to collect reusable and washable utensils.
Interested people or outfits can donate such utensils at the counters, which would be used to serve food and water for devotees during the Pongala, when lakhs of women, including foreigners, converge in the city to prepare ‘Nivediyam’, a sweet offering for the Almighty.
Such eco-friendly utensils would be collected with the help of sponsors as well, the mission officials said.
Welfare organisations, which distribute free food during the festival day, have been asked to avoid doing so in packets.
Volunteers would be trained and deployed to collect disposable water bottles, abandoned by devotees and counters would be set up with the support of various non-governmental organisations to provide eco-friendly carry bags.
With the support of the state water authority, kiosks and water tankers would be made available to reduce use of bottled water, they said.
Ameershah, programme officer, Suchitwa Mission, said the green protocol is implemented during festivals after multi-level discussions.
“We used to begin preparations at least one or two months before the commencement of each festival. We hold discussions with the ministers concerned, mayors, people representatives, local leaders and religious heads,” he told PTI.
“Later, we convey the message about the various green protocol steps to be adopted during the festivals through media, including FM radio,” he said.
The official said the religious institutions were very cooperative for the initiative as disposal of waste is a major concern after every festival.
Detailing the “green” steps to be taken during Uroos festival, which begins on February 17, he said a preliminary discussion with the mosque committee was held last week.
During the Uroos fest, the mosque as well as voluntary organisations serve food to devotees. Besides this, several groups set up stalls and counters in the premises of the mosque offering eatables, he added.
The stalls would be given permission to operate only if they give in writing that they would adhere to green protocols, Ameershah said.
“Only washable and reusable utensils will be used to serve food there. Use of plastic will not be allowed. If anyone violates this, the particular stall will be removed and penalty imposed,” the official added.
The Suchitwa Mission began implementation of green protocols in various events after its success in the 2015 National Games, hosted by the southern state.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.