Staff photography for Sustainability ‘Creativity Unleashed’

Photography is the story I fail to put into words! ~ Destin Sparks.

We conducted a Photography session by Mr. Sudan Budathoki, for our colleagues (Royal Mountain Travel and Community Homestay Network) on October 27th, followed by a challenge in which the participants were divided into 6 teams and were assigned to submit 12 best shots and tell a story on different themes. We had Tihar (Deepawali) coming up, so the teams seemed excited with quite challenging themes! They got ample time to present what they could capture and what story needs to come across. And as a result, everyone did their part and we got good results. On November 15th, the teams presented their photographs and the Best photos were chosen based on Good Composition and Messages well received.

Well done Team!!

Theme 1 Pollution Management in Tihar: Team – Ashish, Anu and Roji

Festivals are a season of happiness and joy, Tihar is one of the most celebrated festivals in Nepal, in which we worship the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, Laxmi. We clean and decorate our houses, but we may be unconsciously generating more waste during festivities. From using non-biodegradable items for various purposes like lighting and making garlands to using plastic-made home decors and gift wrappers, we are constantly overlooking the negative consequences on our environment.

Firecrackers release smoke that adds to severe air pollution. Metals like cadmium, barium, lithium, magnesium, and copper salts are used to manufacture firecrackers to produce bright light when burnt. The toxic smoke contains benzene, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and ozone, primarily all major greenhouse gases (gases responsible for climate change). Even noise pollution from them scares animals. And a lot of other waste is created in preparation during Tihar like flowers, grains, incense, colors, etc.

Message: River water pollution in Nakkhu Khola. Photo credit: Anu Pulami

The rivers are being polluted in Kathmandu, as our drainage system is unmanaged and unplanned and sewages are directly dumped into our river sources which is bad for us and the environment. This degrades the quality of river water and the dumps keep getting collected more and more. The government and concerned authorities need to take required actions and we need to be more responsible too.

Waste Collection by Kathmandu Metropolitan City.
Composition: Waste Collection by Kathmandu Metropolitan City. Photo credit: Ashish Pradhan

We segregate our house wastes as biodegradable and non-biodegradable items. Mostly, food waste is used in our garden as fertilizer to grow onions. Other plastics, we try to reduce the use and reuse, while another waste is sent to waste management trucks of Kathmandu Metropolitan City which come for collection on a timely basis.

Theme 2 Nexus between Animals and Human: Team – Rabi, and Manju

Humans are super conscious beings and we have responsibility towards animals and nature. Tihar is the festival in which we show our gratitude towards various animals like dogs, cows, oxen and even crows.

Dog’s day celebrated in Maitighar Mandala on the occasion of Kukur Tihar.

Message: Dog’s day celebrated in Maitighar Mandala on the occasion of Kukur Tihar. Photo credit: 
Rabi Sthapit

Animals need love and care. In Tihar, we take this opportunity to be grateful to our pet dogs and appreciate their love.

The innocence and love shared- Tihar- festivals of Nepal
Composition: The innocence and love shared. Photo credit: Rabi Sthapit

For centuries, dogs have been “man’s best friend”. They offer companionship and loyalty to their human counterparts.

Theme 3 Division of Labour in Tihar: Team – Umesh, Shekhar and Anish

Brothers and sisters working together to make mandala.
Message: Brothers and sisters working together to make mandala. Photo credit: Anish Shrestha

Bhai Tika is a special festival that exclusively acknowledges and showcases the love and bond between brothers and sisters. There’s no specific division in work during these festivals in terms of gender. All family members are engaged in doing all household works while celebrating Tihar.

The househead begins the ceremony “Bhai tika and Mha Puja” by sweeping the floor with mud.
Composition: The house head begins the ceremony “Bhai tika and Mha Puja” by sweeping the floor with mud. Photo credit: Anish Shrestha

Theme 4 Food Journey: Team – Sabita, Nilima and Yogendra

Family food businesses are being run in the market. Everyone in the household is supportive during festivities and are doing their part during the festive season. As the demand is high during festivities, everyone is busy supporting their parents and trying to be the helping hands.

Message: Fish is used for many purposes, specially in preparing “Sagoon” in Newari culture during festivals in Tihar and on birthdays. Photo credit: Poojan Shrestha
Composition: An active businesswoman busy in fulfilling customers’ demand, while the other awaits eagerly to take them home to her family. Photo credit: Poojan Shrestha


Theme 5: Colours and Lights: 
Team – Gauri and Reju

Tihar is a festival of lights and colors that lasts for five days. Every house is decorated with lights and marigold flowers. Sisters offer blessings and Tika to their brothers and different presents for their long life, and brothers do the same in return.

Message: Importance of Seven Colors in Bhaitika. Photo credit: Reju Karkee

Sisters put Saptarangi tika on the forehead of their brothers as blessings along with garlands, and it is believed that these colours are a reflection of sunlight. The seven colors of the rainbow are VIBGYOR (Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red).

The temple of Goddess decorated with lights and devotees at Maitidevi.
Message: The temple of Goddess is decorated with lights and devotees at Maitidevi. Photo credit: Reju Karkee

The temples are decorated with flowers and colorful lights and people use traditional oil lamps (Diyo) to make this festival brighter to please the goddess Laxmi. Everyone feels overjoyed with the illumination of beautiful lights, decorations, celebrations and singing deusi-bhailo.

Theme 6 Market and People: Team – Poojan, Geeta and Sabita (CHN)

Message: The traditional march during Newari New Year “Bhintuna”. In the picture, the tradition and culture is being transferred from older generations to younger generations. Photo credit: Poojan Shrestha
Message: A busy market scenario in the square of Nyatapol, Bhaktapur, and a large crowd gathering. Photo credit: Sabita Basnet

Markets are more crowded during festival times and the waste is not well-managed. While extra steps are taken to prepare and clean for Tihar, the waste generated from the celebrations might be a burden on the environment after all.

Analysis:

In the present context, our country faces a shortage of flowers during this festive season, so we could focus more on growing flowers in the barren land. Also, the use of alternatives like barley garlands like in the past could be used.

How could we put less waste burden to our country during festivals? Have we ever felt the necessity of promoting and using biodegradable paala and diyo instead of a variety of bulbs that fall under hazardous wastes? Instead of importing electric decorative lights and other items worth hundreds of millions? Why is there still a shortage of programmes and policies promoting degradable items?

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Few approaches to celebrate Tihar in eco-friendly ways:

1. Eco-friendly decorations

  • Rangoli is an art of color, it would be best to use organic colors, real flowers and leaves, instead of plastic flowers.
  • Fresh flowers and organic incense sticks are better than synthetic ones.

2. Replace firecrackers

  • We can find some alternative fun options like playing cards, playing dice, playing Deusi Bhailo, singing and dancing and preserving our traditional culture during Tihar festivals.
  • Firecrackers release anti-environmental chemicals and produce loud sound that creates noise pollution and possibly could affect old aged people, small babies and animals.

  3. Using earthen lamps

  • When it comes to Tihar lights, colourful electric lights, Diya and candles are used widely to create bright nights in our home and neighbourhood. We need to use organic options that we have, lighting the earthen lamps over electrical Diyas to reduce the unnecessary amount of electricity consumed. These lamps are natural where it burns with the help of mustard oil and the fact is mustard oil incense kills the harmful germs in the air.

4. Buy less and save a lot

  • We do not buy things that are needless.We need to think wisely before spending money to buy unnecessary items. We could shop only as per our requirement.

5. Waste Management

  • Tihar is an event of family gatherings, enjoyment, singing, dancing, and eating delicious foods. But the next day, we need to manage time to collect and clean all wastes collected during Tihar.
  • Wastes are the source of air and land pollution as they make the environment dirty. For this, separate the biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste to dispose properly.

A small step can make a difference to our environment and ecosystem and we can choose to celebrate Tihar festival wisely, enjoying them, keeping the traditional and cultural essence intact.

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Shristi Shrestha, the writer of the article, is the Travel Consultant and Impact and Sustainability Coordinator at Royal Mountain Travel.

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