Bhubaneswar (Odisha) [India], September 10 (ANI): Ganesh Chaturthi is being celebrated here in a unique manner by combining religion and a social cause- worshipping trees in the form of the elephant god.
Worshipping trees is an age-old tradition in the country and drawing inspiration from the custom, volunteers of Bakul Foundation worshipped the tree in the form of Ganesh inside Biju Patnaik Park on Thursday. The tree looked like Lord Ganesh with eyes and trunk drawn on it.
The foundation has been following this practice since 2018 but was discontinued in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A tree inside Biju Patnaik Park was chosen for the worship near the Tree Library and the Park Library, set up by Bakul Foundation with the support of the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA). When people come to worship the Tree God, it also follows that they got a plant as prasad.
Lord Ganesha with the elephant head and the human body has been a powerful symbol for the union of all creation, the animal and the human world.
"All the volunteers were pretty excited with this creative idea of giving an environmental message and we put our ideas as to how differently we will create the Tree Ganesh though there were precedents from earlier celebrations at Bakul. We had the added challenge of heavy rainfall that was predicted and designed it to withstand the rains," said Bishal Mohanty, a young volunteer, who has taken the lead in the Tree Ganesh celebrations this year.
Sanjay Kumar Singh, Vice-Chairman of the BDA appreciated the efforts and creativity of young volunteers.
He thanked them and promised to give them certificates. He particularly complimented the volunteer, Shruti Kanungo, who had wrapped the dhoti very beautifully around the Tree Ganesh.
Singh also said that the entire area around the library in the park could be developed as a quiet reading zone where people could also come with their books and read in the shade of the trees.
"Bakul has similarly been celebrating Friendship Day with trees and Raksha Bandhan in which volunteers tie rakhis to trees and plants. Further, Bakul has been aggressively promoting the cultural practice of gifting plants on occasions and festivals associated with gifting such as Raksha Bandhan, Diwali, New Year's Day and Valentine's Day etc," said Sujit Mahapatra, Founder Secretary of Bakul Foundation.
Bakul has been promoting a cultural association with trees since 2009 realising that sowing saplings for the sake of plantation would not help the environment as it would lead to tokenism.
"A cultural association with trees, where we have a personal relationship with trees and love and worship trees would lead to more and more people planting, nurturing and protecting trees and forests," Mahapatra added.
Ganesh Chaturthi, a ten-day festival that starts on the fourth day of the Hindu month Bhadrapada, starts today.
It is celebrated with much fanfare with lakhs of devotees converging into pandals to seek blessing from Lord Ganesh.
But for the second consecutive year, authorities in several states have put COVID-19 restrictions in place, prohibiting large gatherings. However, devotees can digital or online darshans of Lord Ganesha. (ANI)