Temples turn puja waste to compost

What happens to flowers once the rituals are done? Two shrines in Bengaluru have found a way to turn them to manure

Temples generate tonnes of garbage, and the problem gets bigger in the wake of festivals. A city group is out to address the problem by setting up in-house composting units for temples.

The Hanuman (Maruti) temple on Palace Road and the Sampangi Rama temple on Cunningham Road now have composting units. They are the first two in the city to manage their own waste. A year ago, Rajkumar Dugar, secretary of the Association for Information Technology, came up with the idea of tackling temple waste by setting up composting units. The first unit came up at the Sampangi Rama temple.

Inspired by Dugar, Inner Wheel Club (Bangalore Central), the ladies wing of the Rotary Club, donated and installed two composting units at the temple on Palace Road.

“The temple has many trees. The leaves, flowers and garlands from the temple which otherwise go into the BBMP garbage collection system are now collected in bins. The garbage going out to the landfills comes down and organic and clean compost is available as manure,” says Arathi Ghatke, president of the Inner Wheel Club.

Dugar has been thinking about the garbage collection problem for years. “The intention is to reduce the amount of garbage the BBMP collects. Using the simplest form of aerobic composting, I started the first unit at the Cunningham Road temple,” he says.

How does composting work? The waste is placed in bins made of metal inside the temple. After a few months, the lowest layer decomposes and turns into black powder. This is compost and can be used as manure, he explains.

The composting unit is in the form of a bin that can be transported from one place to another. “Everything is left to nature. This is a complete zero maintenance process,” he says.

Ritual remains

After a puja is done, leaves, loose flowers and garlands are emptied into bins placed outside temples. These are then cleared by the BBMP. Most temples dispose of leftover prasada the same way. Along with flowers come plastic packets of vermilion and incense sticks, and bangles made from synthetic material.

“These offerings turn into colossal waste and are detrimental to the environment. Setting up composting units in temples is a good initiative,” says Krishna, a resident of Vasanth Nagar. 

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Temples turn puja waste to compost

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