Guidelines for Achieving Environmental Sustainability in a Cultural Context

A Balancing Act: Guidelines for Achieving Environmental Sustainability in a Cultural Context

Avani Agarwal

Agarwal Durga

My project studied the history, the current situation, and the future of sustainability in the festival of Durga Puja in Eastern India-- a ten-day festival celebrated primarily in Eastern India that reveres Goddess Durga, featuring elaborate temple and stage decorations, scripture reading, worship, performance arts, revelry, and parades-- with particular focus on its craft and making aspect. My main goal for this endeavour was to 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 while taking into consideration the religious and cultural sentiments of the community.

I utilized a mixed methodology combining qualitative methods that involve conducting interviews of the craftsmen, local planning authorities and non-profit organizations 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 was to merge the different points of view and build a common road towards adoption of sustainable practices to maximize the efficient use of available resources while considering the various socio-cultural factors associated with this religious festival.