This year, Kerala will usher in eco-friendly Shivaratri celebrations as the Aluva Manappuram and the Travancore Devaswom Board have decided to enforce a ban on plastic water bottles and plastic carry bags. Kerala has been in the spotlight for the lackadaisical approach to waste management and the poor implementation of waste disposal by municipal authorities. It is a familiar sight to find neighborhoods flanked by open spaces where garbage is dumped and not cleared for days! In one of his blog posts, actor Mohanlal had pointed out that the growing menace of dogs turning wild and attacking people pertains to the waste that is being piled up on road sides which may contain harmful materials including drugs.
This move by Aluva Manappuram and the Travancore Devaswom Board is a welcome one, but one wonders about how smoothly the implementation will work. Here are some preparations that are underway to facilitate the same.
According to tradition, the Shivaratri celebrations will begin on Friday night and continue till Saturday morning. There will be a strict ban on soft drinks that are packaged in plastic bottles and drinking water that comes in plastic bottles. Plastic carry bags will also not be allowed. There will be a supply of boiled water which is flavored with ginger during the Shivaratri celebrations. This will be made available at various points as elaborate arrangements have been made to facilitate the same. Further, there will be 5,000 litre capacity containers that will be placed on the banks of the river.
The banks of the river Periyar will have 250 ‘bali tharas’ and over 500 priests have been deployed to help devotees with the rituals. However, the priests have been directed to use the natural plaintain leaf for the Balitharpan rituals instead of plastic plates. In accordance with tradition, the rituals will begin at midnight with the Shivaratri vilakku.
Two dozen bio-toilets will be set up. There will be make shift tents for women devotees to change their clothes after taking a dip in the water as part of the traditional rituals. Security has been strengthened around the area with over 2000 police personnel, 200 women CPOs, 164 sub-inspectors and 30 circle inspectors, among others.
To be ready for any emergency, the service of swimmers will be ready along with support facilities on the ground that includes boats and life jackets. Surveillance cameras have been placed along the river bank and surrounding premises. Traffic regulations will be strictly monitored.
It is good to see Kerala move in the right direction. More festival celebrations across the state can be planned in advance and by keeping it environment-friendly, it spreads the message more effectively with the masses, the religious organisations/temple authorities and the officials who are responsible for implementing it.
From God’s own country to the entire country, let us pitch for more initiatives like this!