Gurpreet Singh: Sikh businessman’s eco-friendly initiative involving Hindu god gives hope in trying times

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      As the world is grappling with growing bigotry, social inequalities, and a climate crisis, a Sikh businessman is giving the public reason for optimism.

      Ludhiana-based bakery owner Harjinder Singh Kukreja has been crafting chocolate statues of Ganesha for the past four years.

      Ganesha is one of the most revered Hindu gods—a remover of obstacles, patron of arts and sciences, and idol of intellect. Known for his elephant head, Ganesha's festival falls this month.

      It is an auspicious occasion for Hindus who often build big idols of him and immerse them into the water. The practice has raised concerns over the years as the paint and material used for making such statues is not good for the environment.

      Kukreja came up with an idea of chocolate Ganesha statues to not only save water from pollutants, but also to bring smiles on the faces of poor and underprivileged kids. His Ganesha is immersed into milk and the kids are given free chocolate milk as a prasad (temple food).

      The most inspiring part of the story is that Kukreja involved a Muslim artist to craft the Ganesha idol with 106 kilograms of Belgian chocolate this time.

      Thus, he set a great example of building cross-cultural bridges when minorities, especially Muslims, continue to be targeted by Hindu extremists under a right-wing Hindu nationalist government in New Delhi.  

      Both Kukreja and the Muslim artist involved in the project belong to minority communities that do not believe in idol worship. And yet they came together to give their respect to a Hindu god in an unusual manner that goes a long way in saving the environment and embracing the poor.

      That's besides sending a strong message to those who are trying to divide people on religious lines to stay in power.

      Gurpreet Singh is a Georgia Straight contributor and a cofounder of Radical Desi.

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