BEEJ PARVA 2021
a step towards conscious celebrations
Celebrations are an integral part of human civilisation. Celebrations are usually time for feasts, sweets, lights, sound, gifts, decorations and gatherings.
But when we lose context of celebrations and it becomes ritualistic, it leads to more evil than good.
Today, we see the exploitation that marginalised communities and the environment has to suffer as a result of use of crackers, fireworks, excessive consumption of sugar, dairy & oil-based products, loudspeakers and extremely fancy decorations and gifts made from highly toxic and non-degradable materials.
BeejParva is a series of eco-friendly, exploitation-free and meaningful alternatives to the current means of celebrations that are socially and ecologically exploitative without conscious thought into it.
Let us be more conscious and responsible in ways we celebrate.
बारूद नहीं बीज चाहिए ….
HATCHERS… NOT CRACKERS!!
- eco-friendly process, pollution-free product
- biodegradable & recyclable
- made from waste paper & recycled material
- plantable & embedded with live seeds
- handmade by rural women
Let’s choose, HATCHERS, instead of Crackers
चलो बारूद नहीं, बीज चुनते है…
Firecracker alternatives made from recyclable material, in a non-exploitative environment & embedded with living seeds. Instead of affecting birds & animals by causing sound, light and air pollution, these are nature-friendly & habitat-rejuvenating.
Just sow, water and see these crackers hatch into beautiful plants that can be consumed after nurturing.
SEEDS: Red Amaranthus, Green Amaranthus, Senna Tora, Radish, Mustard, Purslane & Spinach
This Microgreens Ladi contains 7 pairs of microgreen seeds for each day of the week. Simply separate each pair, sow in different pots and water regularly. You will start getting microgreens for consumption within a month.
A normal size Ladi last for hardly 7 seconds even after having more than a dozen crackers in it & creates noise and air pollution. On the contrary, if you nurture this Hatcher Ladi for seeds harvest, then this will last for more than 7 generations & instead of creating pollution & disrupting the ecosystem, will rejuvenate it.
To be grounded, is a virtue that we all try to live by. Then why forget it in our celebrations?
Celebrations that make loud noise, are a symbol of boastfulness; something very opposite to being grounded. Chakkar, by design, can be termed as the most grounded of all firecrackers as it needs firm ground to operate. What seed to better compliment it with than that of an Onion- possibly the most grounded of all the crops we consume on a daily basis!
This chakkar will grow into an onion plant when sown and won’t be causing air pollution like its firecracker counterpart.
Why destroy when you can create?
This Hatcher contains seeds of Roselle, a type of natural plant fibre. In addition to its leaves, fruits and seeds being used for consumption, the plant stock can be processed to get hemp/jute ropes.
Remove the ropes tied around the bomb, take out the seed ball inside the paper wrapping, sow the ball and water regularly to see it grow.
This Hemp Bomb creates ropes as opposed to the traditional Sutli Bomb which destroys it & creates very high sound pollution.
SEEDS: Golden Shower Tree, Agasti (Sesbania grandiflora)
The traditional Anar firecracker creates a golden shower that lasts a few seconds leaving behind a trail of toxic smoke and ash. How about an Anar firecracker that creates a golden shower that can last weeks?
This Hatcher contains the seeds of Golden Shower tree (Cassia Fistula) which blooms in summer. Adorned with its golden coloured flowers, the tree looks as if it’s basking in a golden shower. A splendid view which is also a traditional bio-indicator of rains supposed to predict the arrival of monsoon which usually comes 5 weeks after the day of full bloom of majority of these trees in the region. Additionally, its flowers and parts of its pods are consumed for eating and for medicines.
It also contains the seeds of Agasti, which is a perennial source of consumables. Its flowers, tender pods & tender leaves are edible. Being a fast & straight growing short lived tree, it is highly desirable for its wood & creating a live support structure for vines.
Embedded with these tree seeds, this Anaar will last of decades!
SEEDS: Bauhinia Racemosa (Sonapatti/Aapta), Okra
Bauhinia racemosa leaves are offered to elders in some traditions as a symbol of offering gold & that’s why this tree is also called Sonapatti which literally means leaves of gold. Laxmi also happens to be the Goddess of wealth & prosperity, the Goddess who is the inspiration behind this traditional firecracker.
This Laxmi bomb contains the seeds of Sonapatti which has many medicinal properties and is used for treating headache, fever, skin diseases, blood diseases, dysentery and diarrhoea. So one can certainly say that this tree is as precious as gold, if not more.
So why burn the Goddess of wealth and create sound & air pollution when you can actually use it to create wealth yourself?
So the question is, whether to choose something which lacks conscious thought, is destructive & lasts for a few seconds or something that is thoughtful, constructive & can last for generations to come…?
This firecracker has a comparatively less nuisance value. These are usually used by kids to burst by crushing with a stone or by using a toy gun.
These Tikli instead of crushing have to be cracked. The envelope contains 10 Tikli firecrackers which have seeds of coriander embedded in it. Each round coriander, which is a daily culinary item in most Indian kitchens, is in fact the fruit of coriander which contains two seeds inside it. Therefore, it has to be cracked or crushed gently and then sown in soil & watered regularly.
It does make us wonder, why let our kids do the violent act of crushing for sake of mere fun (?) when it can be done for something as meaningful as a life giving act?
The rocket firecracker is a beauty when it climbs high up in the night sky and bursts to form numerous stars. But what happens to other non-human beings in those few seconds when we are enjoying its sound & view? The light, sound & air pollution is a scary thing, a nightmare literally, for numerous birds, bats, owls, dogs, cattle and other animals who have not evolved to process this completely unnatural phenomenon.
This Cucumber Rocket too will climb up in the sky and burst into numerous fruits of cucumber, as it is embedded with seeds of the climber. Just tilt the rocket upside down, bury the cracker part of it in soil, tie one end of a string to the end of the stick of this rocket and another end of the string to a place somewhere high and water regularly. The cucumber rocket will climb high with the help of the string and instead of lasting for a few seconds, will last for a few months.
SEEDS: Marigold & Brinjal
Many celebrations are meant to ward-off evil.
This “Genda Guard” contains brinjal seeds at its tips. Brinjal is susceptible to Rootknot Nematodes, which are a pest for brinjal plants. Roots of live marigold plants keep the Rootknot Nematodes away from the soil. To ward-off these “evil” nematodes, this Genda Guard has seeds of marigold between the tips. Marigold plants are supposed to grow between two brinjal ones at the opposite ends of the this firecracker lookalike & protect the brinjal plants.
Unlike, the firecracker counterpart of this Genda Guard, this one will ward the evil off instead of creating one!
Roll Caps are firecrackers made especially for children, often burst using a toy gun…. Not at all an appropriate thing to teach our kids!
Let’s teach them about planting instead. This Methi Roll is embedded with Fenugreek seeds placed equidistantly. How far two plants need to be sown depend upon the plant’s biology- how far does its root system grow, what will be its expanse above the ground, etc. Fenugreek seeds in this Methi Roll are preset at an appropriate distance so that the plants don’t get over-populated, nor do they end up utilising more space than what is necessary. It is usually consumed by uprooting the plant. Uprooting reveals the plant’s roots which have nodular formation on it that act as soil agents by fixing atmospheric nitrogen into soil.
This Methi Roll certainly has so much appropriate knowledge to offer our kids than its firecracker counterpart!
SEEDS: Tomato, Chilli & Guar (Cluster Beans)
During most of the festivals, there is a tradition of offering some sweets/snacks as takeaways for guests; especially to kids. These loose ladi can supplement these takeaways. These loose ladi contain seeds of Tomato, Chilli & Guar (Cluster Beans).
Unlike its firecracker counterpart, these will keep givings multiple “candies” for years to come!
SEED-SWEETS, a medium to start conversation around realities of our food
- eco-friendly process, exploitation-free product
- biodegradable & recyclable
- made from waste paper & recycled material
- plantable & embedded with live seeds
- handmade by rural women
Let’s choose SEED-SWEETS
sweets that are a fruit of patience…
Celebrations without sweets are difficult to imagine. Sugar and palm oil are main ingredients of the sweets industry today.
But the real cost of these sweets is being paid by sugarcane cutting labourer women who get their wombs removed to increase their work efficiency, orangutans and other creatures from evergreen forests of Indonesia who lose their lives as their habitat is destroyed and burnt for mono-cultures of oil palm plantations, and many such other marginalised people, creatures and beings.
Seed-sweets are an alternative to such exploitative sweets which will start tasting bitter if we look for the truth of its production. On the contrary, Seed-sweets are seed balls made from waste paper, are biodegradable and will grow into consumables after sowing, watering and nurturing and certainly contain the sweet taste of patience and an honest labour…
SEEDS: Tomato. Radish
India is the largest consumer and imported of palm oil in the world. It imports most of it from Indonesia, which is the global leader in palm oil production. Palm oil is used as the most common cooking medium and in various forms like chips, instant noodles, ice-creams, sweets & chocolates to toothpastes, lotions, lipsticks and other personal care and cosmetics.
This consumption drive has led to clearing of thousands of hectares of bio-diverse rainforests in Indonesia which is a home to orangutans, Sumatran tigers and rhinoceros, sun bears and clouded leopards and are therefore at risk of facing extinction due to loss of habitat.
This consumption has mainly been triggered by India’s reduction in import duties on palm oil leading to dirt cheap imports. This has led to the collapse of oilseed farmers, diverse oilseed crops and the village oil-extraction industry.
With celebrations being the main events responsible for the spike in palm oil consumption, let’s sow this palm-oil-free laddu as a vow to choose locally grown & processed oils instead of palm oil. Just sow and water this laddu seed-ball regularly and nurture the growing saplings. After knowing the bitter truth of oil, the tomatoes & radish that this laddu will yield, will definitely taste much sweeter…
SEEDS: Brinjal, Purslane
Between the mid-1960s and 2010, an urban Indian’s annual wheat consumption almost doubled, from 27 kg to 52 kg. This plate-share gain came at the cost of the consumption of sorghum and millets, reducing their average annual per capita consumption from 32.9 kg to 4.2 kg. Apart from the health hazards of this monotonous consumption, what does it mean for the environment?
Growing 1 kg of wheat in India has a direct water requirement of over 1000 litres. Wheat being a winter crop, all this water has to be irrigated either from groundwater or from canals/lakes. It also requires a heavier dosage of fertilisers and pesticides compared to millets & has very low fodder output unlike sorghum or pearl millet. This heavy fertiliser and pesticide application in wheat is also resulting in making groundwater un-drinkable and increasing the incidence of cancer in wheat growing hotspot of India- Punjab & Haryana.
With festivities, wheat consumption sees an extra surge in form of cookies, cakes, breads, etc. But can we really relish on any wheat-based sweet or savoury after knowing the reality of where it comes from and its impact on our ecosystem?
Sow these wheat-less cookies as a reminder to be conscious in our consumption pattern. These cookies contain the seeds of brinjal and purslane, both of which taste really delicious when consumed with traditional breads made from sorghum or maize or other millets.
SEEDS: Okra, Amaranthus
Sugar, probably the first thing that comes to mind when we think of celebrations. It’s so much enshrined in many cultures and religions that the offering made to Gods in the form of Prasad has to be sweet, mostly containing sugar, and it is later consumed by all devotees as it supposed to contain God’s blessings.
But let us look at the following facts for a moment and then reconsider whether the sugary sweets that we so happily consume are really blessings or a curse….
- India is the largest sugar producer and consumer in the world
- More than 1500 litres of water is required to produce sugarcane enough to get 1 kg of sugar, of which 80% of water is irrigated groundwater
- Studies show that regions from where most of the sugarcane cutting labourers come from have the hysterectomy (an operation to remove the uterus) rate of 36%, i.e., 10 times more than the Indian national average of 3.2%. This is done to ensure that women labourers don’t hamper the sugarcane cutting productivity due to menstrual breaks.
Now, can we really call sugar a sweet blessing??
Let’s choose ways to celebrate that are not socially & ecologically exploitative. Let’s sow this sugar-free barfi as a tribute to all those lost wombs and nurture the growing off-springs as our responsibility towards all those who didn’t get to come into being…
SEEDS: Chilli, Carrot
It is hard to imagine celebrations in India without milk. Most of the sweets and delicacies prepared during festivals are made from milk or milk products like ghee, paneer, etc.
Although India’s avg per animal per day milk production is very low (3 litres) compared to industrialised countries (30 litres), per capita milk availability in India stood at 374 gms/day in 2018, quite higher than the world avg of 294 gms/day, making it the world’s largest milk producer as well as consumer.
This might create a sense of security in one’s mind with respect to our milk requirements, but this “security” is slowly translating to “slavery” as the production patterns are changing. Dairy sector in India is rapidly shifting from backyard milk production by farmers & pastoralists to industrial production by corporates. With state policies favouring the later, these small producers are being forced to give up their animals & if we don’t wake up to these realities, then the day won’t be far when milk consumers become slaves of corporate interests too.
Hence, it is very urgent that we work towards achieving food “sovereignty” & not just “security”. Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy & culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound & sustainable methods, & their right to define their own food & agriculture systems. It puts those who produce, distribute & consume food at the heart of food systems & policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.
Let’s sow, grow & nurture the chillies & carrots in this chamcham in solidarity with struggles of those who feed us & start a new relationship with each other…