As most families in India just bade goodbye to our dearest Lord Ganesha, this story of how sustainability influences young ones, and more importantly, how they are willing to take charge, needs to be told.
A few years ago, Vir Thapar, a young teenager was participating in Ganesh Chaturthi festivities along with the rest of his family in his hometown Pune. However, a meeting with Omkar, at the time of idol immersion would change his outlook on sustainability. Omkar, himself a young boy, who used to make eco-friendly Ganesh idols informed Vir about the harm caused to the environment by plaster of Paris idols accessorized by thermocouple and plastic.
Vir later met Omkar and found out that not only eco-friendly idols made by Omkar looked good, but they would also not leave any harmful waste behind. Making these on a larger scale seemed like a perfect game-changing idea, but for two challenges: 1) Omkar came from an underprivileged background and did not have the money to scale his idea, and 2) winning over people to switch to eco-friendly Ganeshas.
Vir joined forces with Omkar. Together, they started conductingworkshops at schools, and housing societies to raise awareness about using eco-friendly alternatives. Vir helped in raising a small funding and a space to help scale Omkar’s work. He was happy that he was working on a real-life sustainability project rather than an academic discussion.
“To convert early inquiries and interest into sales, we started hosting an annual event where more than 50 kids would come to paint their own Ganesha idols during the festival time. From then to now, our association has come a long way, with Omkar sellingmore than 700 sculptures during the festival”, says Vir who is extremely content that the money helps pay for Omkar’s education and he in return gets the sense of doing his bit for the environment.
For Vir, this is just the beginning, and one day he hopes to see sustainability becomethe centerpiece of economic activities and not just a peripheral part of ESG reporting.Along with the help of their patrons, Vir and Omkar have helped a tradition keep pace with the times. This brings in a lot of hope about the young generation that can not only question the status quo but also bring courage and ideas to help tradition become better.