Lions Quest Students Partner With Leos To Protect The Environment

A traditional Ganesha idol is immersed into the sea.

Ganesha is the Elephant God, the remover of obstacles, the patron saint of arts and sciences, and the deva of intellect and wisdom. As no Hindu event starts without first invoking Ganesha, Lions Quest students and Leos find great importance in finding a way to honor Ganesha, and in an environmentally friendly way.

Every year during August or September, the birth of Ganesha is celebrated with the Hindu festival, Ganesh Chaturthi. During this time, participants worship Ganesha idols for 10 days and then immerse them in the sea or in other pools of water. Many of the ingredients to create the Ganesha idols are pollutants, and when millions of these idols are immersed into local seawater, lakes, ponds, and wells, the water becomes polluted with toxins and kills marine life, year after year, causing great damage to the underwater ecosystem.

To change this practice, middle school students in Bangalore, India are creating environmentally friendly clay idols as part of a Lions Quest service project led by Leos. Lions Quest is Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF)’s social and emotional learning curriculum. The pre-kindergarten through grade 12 program promotes positive behavior; anti-bullying; drug, alcohol, and tobacco awareness; character education; and service learning all while building a connection to school. Skills for Adolescence, the Lions Quest curriculum for grades 6, 7, and 8, promotes positive student behavior that will lead to greater academic success. Students develop the knowledge to say no to negative peer pressure and make healthy choices that will follow them outside the classroom into their community.

Leo Yashas teaches the schoolchildren how to make environmentally friendly clay Ganesha idols.

Leo Yashas teaches the schoolchildren how to make environmentally friendly clay Ganesha idols.

One aspect of the program that Lions and Leos can especially connect with is service learning. At a nearby high school, there are Leos in each grade level who are part of the Someshwarapura Legacy Leo Club. Their primary role is to promote Lions Quest and to lead service projects with their classmates and other area schools. The Leos recognize the local water pollution as a big problem and want to make a difference.

Each year, a month in advance of the celebration, the Leos guide students through making their own environmentally friendly clay Ganesha idols. They take time to show the students how to carefully sculpt each part of the idol. They also visit other schools, colleges, and temples to spread the word and teach others. Each year, the Leos teach a new class of students how to make their own clay Ganesha that will not harm the earth, a skill the students can pass along to their family and friends.

Two students present their versions of the environmentally friendly clay Ganesha idols.

When the students finish creating their Ganesha, they proudly take it home, worship it for 10 days, and then immerse it into a bucket full of water. Afterward, the bucket of water, which has no pollutants, only clay, is used to water plants. Year after year, the students learn taking care of the environment can be easy and they are proud to be contributing toward a healthier environment for their city and homes. By working to change a centuries-old tradition, the students’ service is promoting a healthier environment for generations to come.

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