About Me

Someone who fell in love with the natural world early on and has been smitten ever since. A blade of grass, a mighty mountain, a tiny raindrop, a roaring waterfall, all fill me with awe and wonder. Nature feels home, filled with warmth and love. It pains my heart to see this home being ravaged. This blog is an effort to find tweaks in modern living to preserve the sanctity of this home. I sincerely hope that you join me in this green karmic journey.

Monday, 25 September 2017

This Kanjak Pooja, Worship Little And Big Goddesses In An Eco-Friendly Way

It's kanjak time! That time of the year when little girls are pampered, worshipped and made to feel very, very special and important. They are showered with food and gifts...aah gifts!! Pure bliss!

While the spirit and menu have remained unchanged over the years, fast-paced life has redefined the way this festival is celebrated. While some still like to invite little girls home, others like to take goodies to their home. 

In whatever manner you celebrate, you can choose to green it with a few tweaks:

1. Use reusable plates: 

If you invite kanyas to your home, use steel/ ceramic plates and cutlery. If you want to use disposables, use banana leaves or traditional leaf plates and bowls.

It's easy enough to follow that at home. Load the dishwasher with extra dishes. Pay extra to your help to do the dishes. 


Think of it as a part of worshipping Bhoodevi - the Earth Goddess. Don't trash Bhoodevi to appease other goddesses. Believe me, they're all related and angering one would anger the whole sisterhood! 

2. Ditch disposables in all forms:

If you are going to the girls' houses, do not carry food in styrofoam  containers and Ziplocs. The best way would be to carry all the food in separate reusable containers or in that classic three or four tiered steel tiffin. When you go to a home, request the host for a plate and transfer a portion of goodies there. This is the easiest and the best option as it honors the first R of the 'Reduce, Reuse and Recycle' mantra


The only glitch here would be your hesitation and the 'what would people say' syndrome. In this day and age of disposables, why would anybody do this? 


Why, if anybody asks, say it's for everyone's health. Our earth and oceans are spilling with trash, making life unlivable for many creatures. The fact that you are doing kanjak pooja points to the fact that you worship Devi. If you throw trash on that Devi in order to worship her, contemplate on what kind of worship it is and do you really want to continue a tradition mindlessly.


Just to make it easier for the first time, it's a good idea to inform all parents beforehand about how you would be doing it and why. Trust me, it's not that difficult. I have started carrying my own reusable plates and cutlery to get-togethers and I get appreciated, once people know the reason behind it. It also raises awareness and inspires others to do the same. More on this in a later post. I just wanted to touch upon it to emphasize that it can be done and no, you won't be ostracized socially. 


Food served in plastic, styrofoam and aluminum foil is not only bad for the environment, it's harmful for health too. You wouldn't like to harm little devis, whose blessings you seek, in any way, right?


If you must use disposables, go for leaf bowls and plates (hunt them as it's getting difficult to find them these days), uncoated paper plates or bagasse plates. You can also consider gifting steel plates with food served on them. Again, keep away from melamine or plastic versions.



3. Say 'No' to plastic bags of all kind:

Avoid using Ziplocs or plastic bags for giving gifts. A paper bag would serve just fine. Do away with plastic toys or gifts. If you don't know what to give, just a bit of money is good enough. When I was a kid, I used to love getting a 1 Rupee coin from each house. Adjust for inflation and you're good to go. When you're 6, it's a great feeling to be the sole owner of a few precious coins or bills. It makes you feel truly goddess-like and royal!

Last, but not the least, 


4. Don't mix it up:

Those single boxes, where halwa mingles with chana, and pooris try to cover it all up, are a no-no. My daughter refuses to eat such a mix.


As you also know, little girls are highly sought after on ashtami and there's only so much that they can eat. It's the parents who end up finishing most of the stuff and trust me, eating a mix of these goodies is no fun for either kids or adults. A chana-halwa mix is served as prasad in temples, but as kanjaks are cosmopolitan now, they might not be used to that taste. So if you want the little goddesses to eat with interest, serve smaller portions and serve them separately. That would avoid unnecessary waste.


Have a beautiful kanjak pooja and worship the Goddess right. If you have other ideas to make the celebration eco-friendly, I would love to hear them.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Who Will Say "Michhami Dukkadam" To The Planet?



"Michhami Dukkadam - May my bad deeds be forgiven. If I have offended you in any way, knowingly or unknowingly, in thought, word or deed, then I seek your forgiveness."  

You might have heard this request for forgiveness from your Jain friends towards the end of Paryushan or their spiritual and fasting period around August-September. Jains ask for forgiveness from everyone, be it old or young. A very noble thought indeed! We all commit a mistake, knowingly or unknowingly. It's good to realize that and apologise, with the intention of not repeating those mistakes. I wonder if Michhami Dukkadam is said to Mother Earth too. Should be, since Jainism is one of the most sustainability-oriented philosophies in the world. (Recently, a Jain friend told me that they ask for forgiveness from nature as well.) 

Jain philosophy believes that there is a 'jiva' (life) in all living forms. This life is to be treated with utmost respect and not to be hurt in any way. Nonviolence is a basic tenet of Jainism and has to be practiced towards everyone, be it fellow human beings, animals, vegetation or even microbes. Jain sages wear a piece of cloth over their mouths and noses, so that even smallest form of life does not get killed accidentally by inhalation or ingestion. 

The concept of seeking forgiveness is being imbibed by many other people too. I admire that, but wonder, when will we, the human race, say 'Michhami Dukkadam' to the planet? 

Isn't creating waste and pollution, a form of violence?

Isn't mindless consumption, a form of violence?

Isn't endangering fellow creatures for momentary convenience, a form of violence?

Look at these pictures. 
A Beach in Maldives.



Picture Source- Pixabay

That mangled plastic bottle? Yeah, it's the same as you threw away when you were too lazy to fill your own reusable bottle.

That plastic bag? It's the one that you had mindlessly used while grocery shopping. You could have carried your own cloth bag.

That Ziploc...it might be the one in which you had packed your lunch when you could have used a reusable container. 

And those disposables...remember the parties you threw or attended over the years? Plastic cutlery, styrofoam plates, takeaways, packaging - everything is in this great garbage stew, the likes of which dot our planet from end to end. 

Though you might have occasionally put your waste in recyclable bins, the bad news is that almost 90% of plastic waste doesn't get recycled. Also, those soiled sandwich bags and dirty styrofoam plates are beyond recycling. 

So where does all this garbage finally land?

It violates the earth.


Picture Source : Pixabay

It violates the oceans.

  
Dhigurah, South Ari Atoll, Maldives, Indian Ocean
      
It violates animals. 

A hermit crab in plastic scoop. Dhigurah, South Ari Atoll, Indian Ocean. 

It violates birds.

Albatross in Midway Atoll, Pacific Ocean. Picture Credit: Chris Jordan. 

And it violates our own health and senses. 

It's high time we say Michhami Dukkadam to Mother Earth. 
Ask forgiveness for our past misdeeds and resolve not to commit the same mistakes again. 

How?

  • By bringing an eco-consciousness in everyday consumption.
  • Making earth-friendly choices in day-to-day living.
  • Whenever we buy or do something, run a quick litmus test on how the stuff would get disposed. How would it impact our planet? Would it hurt someone when disintegrating? If yes, think of the least damaging alternative and go for that instead.

Follow:



  • Reduce, Reduce and Reduce.
  • Reuse, Repair, Repurpose and last of all, Recycle
  • Practice BYO - Bring your own bag, cutlery, plates, water etc. for outings, takeaways, parties and get-togethers.
  • Dispose disposables. Single use products are a bane to earth's resources. Remember, the cost of our convenience is someone's life. 
  • Choose stuff with no or minimal packagingWrite to corporates to reduce packaging.
  • Speak up when you see something that can be changed in your community or workplace. 
  • Think. Think of the tweaks in your lifestyle to be more eco-friendly.
There are tons of ways and helpful websites, if we have the will.  We just need to take that step.

The earth is beautiful, kind and giving. It might still forgive us, if we mean 'Michhami Dukkadam' with all our collective hearts - now. 


Friday, 1 September 2017

A Little Less

Flooding in Mumbai. Smog in Delhi. Frothing lakes in Bengaluru. And festive season on our hands. How do we celebrate?

Celebrations generally mean more of everything. Food, clothes, gifts, decorations, parties, visits. More consumption and consequently, more waste. Wasted food, disposed packaging, and decorations, smoke due to crackers, unwanted gifts, increased travel.

How do we make it less painful for the planet and in turn, us? There is a universal law that whatever goes around, comes around. So if the planet suffers, we are bound to suffer along - caste, creed, gender, economic status notwithstanding.

When flooding, smog, and frothing happen, we curse authorities. But when we are asked to cut down on our conveniences, we argue, complain and make excuses.

It's time to rethink ways in which we celebrate festivals. By taking cues from our childhood or maybe our parents' childhood, when life was simpler and unpretentious. When there weren't many choices, means were limited and simple pleasures were derived out of games, conversations, music, dance, and arts.

Decoratives did not mean buying plastic garlands and lanterns. Bandanwaars made of flowers and leaves, decorated doors and altars. Houses were decorated with rangolis and maandanas, which in turn were painted with red-colored mud and white-colored lime, all-natural stuff.

Sweets meant mostly homemade laddoos and burfis. Packaged sweets were hardly exchanged. Instead, we went to each other's houses to meet, greet and eat.

New clothes were eagerly awaited as they were bought occasionally.

My Mom recounts parties that she attended in her childhood. Food used to be a simple fare of poori, one or two curries, raita, one sweet, one savory and a drink. It was served in leaf plates and bowls. As for water or drinks, steel glasses were carried from home by each family. The origins of bring your own. Siblings used to fight over turns to carry glasses till the venue!

Let's make a few simple efforts this festive season.

Social get-togethers in apartment communities, homes, temples? Do not use disposables. Borrow or rent dishes and cutlery. Guests can be requested to come with their own plates, cutlery, and bottles. Too radical? Speak to people. Talk it out. Tell them why it should be done. Send them videos about pollution in oceans and overflowing landfills. Ask them to be a part of the solution. 

Every big change starts with a little step. People are mostly ready to do their bit. If you can't borrow or rent, consider buying extra dishes which you can use for your parties and then lend to others. 

Vow not to waste food. Buy what you can use and eat whatever you take in our plate. 

Decorate with biodegradable or reusable paper stuff. Club resources with neighbors to make a big rangoli. It fosters community spirit.

Gift with discretion. Does the other person really need or value your gift? If gift you must, choose an eco-friendly and bio-degradable option. Avoid packing the gift. Use a paper bag with a gift tag.

Get together with neighbors to burst crackers. Watch them when they burst theirs and invite them to watch when you burst yours. Limit them in any case.

Traveling? Consider using public transport to reach the railway station or airport.

Little measures when undertaken by all, would create a mighty difference. 

Happy festivities, everyone!