Bhubaneswar: Lord Ganesha with the elephant head and human body has been a powerful symbol for the union of all creation, the animal world and the human world.
Hence, the volunteers of Bakul Foundation found it natural to worship a tree as Shree Ganesh, drawing inspiration from the age-old practice of worshipping trees in India, a practice prevalent even today. Moreover, Odisha is the land of Lord Jagannath, whose idol is formed from a tree.
This Ganesh Puja, like the last 5 years, Bakul Foundation is once again worshipping Lord Shree Ganesh as Lord Tree Ganesh with a tree made up into the idol with artwork by volunteers with eco-friendly material. Lord Ganesh in the form of a tree was not the only innovation.
In this year’s edition of the Tree Ganesh Puja, a painted coconut has become the cutest mouse ever, the vehicle of Shree Ganesh. The Lord himself wears a pink dhoti and turban breaking gender stereotypes and one can see his eyes made of rice and mustard seeds and dal adorning his crown and on his hands.
A tree inside Biju Patnaik Park was chosen for the worship as it was close to the Park Library set up by Bakul Foundation with the support of the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) inside the Park (popularly called Forest Park). The rains would do a natural visarjan of the Lord Ganesh, and there would not be any pollution of water bodies with the immersion of the idols filled with chemicals. Since it was a tree that was the Lord, his prasad was also saplings that were given to the worshippers.
Bhubaneswar Development Authority Vice-Chairman Balwant Singh and other officers of BDA, Sujit Mahapatra, Founder of Bakul Foundation and other volunteers of Bakul, morning walkers and visitors participated in the Puja. In an attempt to involve children an Art Exhibition in the Park Library by children on Green Ganesha was organised.
Sujit Mahapatra, Founder and Volunteer of Bakul Foundation said “It is ironic that trees are often considered obstacles in the path of progress. So, by worshipping a tree as Lord Ganesh, the Bighnaraj, the remover of all obstacles, we are trying to change that mindset. The problem with our society is we have lost a relationship with trees. That’s why we need to worship trees once again.”
Alok Kumar, a Bakul volunteer, added that Bakul has been promoting a cultural association with trees since 2009 realizing that it is only when we have a personal relationship with trees and love and worship trees that people will value trees more would lead to more and more people planting, nurturing and protecting trees and forests.
Shruti Kanungo, another Bakul volunteer added, “This year we are seeing the impact of our sustained campaigns. DAV Chandrasekharpur, EuroKids Angul also celebrated Tree Ganesh Puja and shared pictures with us. KIDDZ Bloomingdales, another school has also celebrated Tree Ganesh Puja inspired by us. The biggest success, however, was celebrating Raksha Bandhan as MyTreeBandhan in which we gave a call to schools and children to tie rakhis to trees in their schools and also at home or in neighbourhood. Hundreds of children from many schools such as Mother’s Public School, Khandagiri and other branches, DAV Chandrasekharpur and DAV Unit 8, Blossom’s, St. Xaviers Kedar Gouri and DM School participated and sent us their photos and videos. That gives us hope that the younger generation is indeed developing a relationship with trees.”