Environmental Policy and Vinayakar Chadturti Festivals in Tamil Nadu: When Tradition Collides with Conservation

Beasley, Kathie M.
In the state of Tamil Nadu, India, as part of the Vinayakar Chadturthi festival, lead based paints are used to adorn Lord Ganesh statutes. At the conclusion of this festival, large and small statues of this venerated deity are immersed in standing and running water bodies as part of this religious ceremony. Although this festival takes place only once per year, the environmental pollution left behind is lasting due to lead content in paint, and other materials used for making the statutes. This research addresses the following research questions: a) how increasing demand for Lord Ganesh statues have resulted in the creation of small scale industries (SSI) that manufacture lead based paints?, b) how are they regulated?, and c) what are the impacts of decorative lead based paints on water quality? This research will identify the extent of this problem, identify local ordinances in regard to the Vinayakar Chadturthi festival, and report on local conservation efforts to clean the Irruptupallam Dam, one of the several water bodies where the immersion of Lord Ganesh takes place.
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