Do the gods pollute? Scientists in India, worried about the public health consequences of immersing idols in lakes and rivers, have been looking anew at water pollution. They hope, and perhaps in some cases pray, to harmonise their medical concerns with some people’s religious priorities.
Most of their research has focused on idols of the elephant-headed god Ganesh, created for the annual Ganesh Chaturthi celebration. Once a fairly quiet, mostly private practice, Ganesh Chaturthi now involves large, public festivals in many parts of the country. Researchers have also looked, a little, at the effects of immersing other idols, especially those of the many-armed goddess Durga.
One of the latest studies is called Assessment of the Effects of Municipal Sewage, Immersed Idols and Boating on the Heavy Metal and Other Elemental Pollution of Surface Water of the Eutrophic Hussainsagar Lake (Hyderabad, India)….
So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.
BONUS: The beginning of a lengthy 2010 Khairatabad TV news report about Ganesh idol immersion:
And a report from Hyderabad that same year: