Guidelines for Achieving Environmental Sustainability in a Cultural Context

Avani Agarwal

Agarwal Durga

My project aims to study the history, the current situation, and the future of sustainability in the festival of Durga Puja in Eastern India with particular focus on its craft and making aspect. It will examine the efficiency of the current methods and materials used by the craftsmen, the socio-economic barriers they are facing and the possible solutions to them that can be eco-friendly. I am particularly excited about pursuing this as my capstone project because I grew up celebrating Durga Puja and have a deep emotional attachment to the festival as it is the most beautiful time in my hometown. As I grew older, I became more aware of its negative environmental impacts and I think it is of vital importance to study, and to generate mass awareness about these effects.

I plan to utilize a mixed methodology combining qualitative methods that involve conducting interviews of the craftsmen, local planning authorities and non-profit organisations to gather data, and quantitative methods that involve conducting a life cycle assessment of the materials used in the creation of the idols that are worshipped during Durga Puja. The goal of my project is to merge the different points of view and build a common road towards adoption of sustainable practices to maximise the efficient use of available resources while considering the various socio-cultural factors associated with this religious festival. Durga Puja is steeped in culture and tradition and being someone who has experienced this gives me a deeper insight into the issue and its solutions and I hope to give back to the community by contributing to this field of research and bringing about some positive change.