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FLASHBACK - Beautiful songstress Kavita Ramkissoon lights a deya at the NCIC Divali Nagar in Chaguanas.

Pundit Satyanand Maharaj, Spiritual Leader at the Satya Anand Ashram in Aranguez, is encouraging Hindus to think about the environment as they seek to clean up the religious waste and remains of their celebrations and observances during the Festival of Lights, Divali.

In an open editorial, Pundit Maharaj makes recommendations for recycling and reusing deeyas, among the most important religious vessels used during the festival.  He also suggests disposing of plants and flowers in a more bio-sensitive way, rather than dumping them in plastic bags that would block natural water courses.

Pundit Maharaj also encourages Hindus to embrace change and be innovative, even as the times are challenging human ingenuity, from climate change issues to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following is the full text of Pundit Maharaj’s release on these issues…

Pundit Satyanand Maharaj, Spiritual Leader of the Satya Anand Ashram, Aranguez.

The great night of Divali has come and gone. I am sure Lakshmi Mata visited all our homes and blessed us with wealth and prosperity. After this great occasion we are once again left with the dilemma of how to dispose of our religious offerings. The ashes of the Havan can be placed at the roots of plants, and the flowers and other fauna can be placed in running water minus the plastic bags and cloth. The fruits etc. can be fed to birds and other creatures.

We are left with the disposal of hundreds, if not thousands, of deeyas. This has been of real concern to me for a long time.  It has not been uncommon to see these once religious articles that were used in praise of the deities languishing in dust bins, mixing with rotting and putrid things. This, in my mind, is not a fitting end to religious articles.

May I suggest we keep the deeyas that are reusable for further use in pujas, much like the brass ones that are washed and reused. The Little Store of Rapsey Street, Curepe, has a buy back policy for used deeyas. I want to thank the management team for this green initiative and encourage all to make use of the offer. The deeyas that cannot be reasonably saved for puja can be broken and used as the base for potting plants, as gravel or broken bricks are used. These are just some of the ways we can repurpose our religious waste. I am sure there are many ideas floating about on the reuse of deeyas.

In these tough economic times let us think outside of the parameters of common practice, that usually see us discarding everything after a religious event is completed. As times have changed in response to the COVID pandemic—with online pujas, satsanghs and even weddings being conducted via social media and other social platforms—the way has been paved for additional change. 

For those who are ultra-orthodox in their religious practice, let me remind you that all things change with time, including rites and rituals. What we should seek to preserve is the philosophy of our great way of life, Sanatan Dharma. Just as we embrace new technology, buy new cars and celebrate their innovations, so too must we now change with time and be responsible practitioners of our Dharma, both while the puja is going on and after is finished.

Once again, I take this opportunity to wish the Hindu community Shubh Divali and may the blessings of Maha Lakshmi Mata be upon you and your loved ones.

Yours In Dharma,

Pundit Satyanand Maharaj
Spiritual Leader, Satya Anand Ashram, Aranguez
and Managing Director, Bhakti TV