A stall put up at a Chhath ghat in Hazaribagh did something unusual.
Instead of providing puja paraphernalia, it disturbed leaflets, urging the preservation of biodiversity.
Chhath, a four-day major religious festival of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh that is also widely observed in neighbouring states, concluded on Sunday after the devotees observed fasting and offered prayers to the setting and rising sun at various water bodies on Saturday evening and Sunday morning, respectively.
On both days, numerous social and cultural organisations put up their stalls near the water bodies to help the devotees in case they needed anything, particularly by distributing puja paraphernalia free of cost.
So did the Canary Eco Club, an organisation of Hazaribagh that campaigns to
promote the preservation of biodiversity in that district town.
The members of the club put up a stall beside the sprawling Hazaribagh Lake which draws a huge number of Chhath devotees every year.
But instead of providing puja paraphernalia to the devotees, they distributed among them a leaflet, urging them to help preserve the biodiversity.
“We chose Hazaribagh Lake, or Jheel as it is known locally, because it draws a
huge number of devotees, ranging between 25,000 and 30,000 on both days and that provided us with an opportunity to spread the message among a wider audience within a short time,” informed Mrityunjay Sharma, a nature-lover and the driving force behind the eco club that had been active in the area for the past many years.
The leaflet the club members distributed among devotees had on one side explained why it was necessary to preserve the biodiversity comprising trees, plants, animals, birds and serpents found around us and how those helped agriculture and horticulture as a whole.
On the other side, the leaflet urged people not to destroy trees and plants or damage their leaves and also to protect animals, birds and serpents as those are equally helpful for society.
Bees and butterflies help the growth of plantations; owls and snakes kill rats in the field and protect standing crops while birds, frogs and spiders help by killing harmful insects, the leaflet informed and urged not to harm them.
“We especially emphasised bees and butterflies as they are important agents for pollination that, in turn, help flowers and fruits to grow,” Sharma said, adding the situation would otherwise take an alarming turn in future.
The local CRPF battalion helped the eco club members a lot by erecting their tent and providing chairs for volunteers to rest, Sharma mentioned, acknowledging it would otherwise be difficult for them to do it.
“Mrityunjay ji is a well-known conservationist of the area and has been doing a great job by identifying and documenting various insects found in the region,” said Shib Shankar Goswami who teaches at the local St Xavier’s School and also runs Bird’s Buddy, an organisation for popularising birdwatching among young students and appreciated that his club utilised Chhath gathering for spreading awareness about preservation of biodiversity.