An entire river being dyed green to celebrate a festival?? Yes. During St Patrick’s Day, The Chicago River is being dyed green every year.  Shall we dive deeper into this peculiar tradition followed by the people of The United states?

A St Patrick’s Day Parade

Why is St Patrick’s day being celebrated?

St Patrick’s Day is a cultural celebration held on 17th March commemorating the death of a famous Saint Patrick. Saint Patrick was a Bishop in Ireland and 5th century Romano British Christian missionary. He was born in Roman Britain into a wealthy family. It is said that he was kidnapped and taken as a slave to Ireland. It is also said that he spent 6 years working as a shepherd and found God around that time.

He also said that God asked him to flee the place where he was residing. According to folklore, it is also said that he spent a lot of years turning Irish people into Christians. He died on March 17. Many legends followed up his demise, making him the foremost Saint of Ireland.

Celebration of the St. Patricks day involves public parades and festivals, music sessions, wearing green coloured attires, banquets, balls, etc. Famous landmarks are being lit up in green during this day to commemorate “Going Green for St Patrick’s day” initiative by Tourism Ireland. Church services are attended by the Christians and the restriction followed during Lenten season is also lifted for that day. As the legends say that St Patrick used the leaves of Shamrock, a three leaved plant to explain the concept of holy trinity to the people.

Leaves of Shamrock

Dying of the Chicago river:

Saint Patrick’s day is not a legal holiday in the United States, but the celebrations observed there doesn’t make it look so. People there celebrate St Patrick’s day by displaying the colour green, numerous parades, etc. The Chicago River in Indiana polis is often dyed green during the celebration of St. Patrick’s day. This tradition is often observed during St Patrick’s day, but how did it originate??

The Chicago city workers dumped almost 100 pounds of dye into the river in 1962. This was initially done as a part of the city’s initiative to clean up the river around that time. One of the distributaries of this river, the bubbly creek, was named so as there would be methane gas bubbles. It was found out that the waste from a large slaughterhouse nearby was the main reason for the methane bubbles.

As the city grew bigger and bigger in population, the efforts to clean the river increased. This was done by constructing waste water treatment plants, constructing a canal that reversed the flow of water which also brought clean water from Lake Michigan. Around 1955, Richard J Daley, the Mayor of Chicago was very determined to develop the condition of the river. He asked the city workers to find out from where the sewage was coming from.

The city workers used a green dye to identify the source of waste. For the entire week, this left the river to be emerald green, leading to the formation of this tradition. The original dye was an oil-based product, but the dye which is being used now is a powder-based product. The powder is orange coloured and its formula has been a closely guarded secret.

The Chicago river dyed green

Time to react!

Festivals are meant to bring families and friends together. Festivals make us forget about the things going on in our life and be happy. We eat till our heart gets full, we laugh about the things that doesn’t make sense, we can get to know about a lot of people either by attending parades or by giving sweets to our neighbor. Amidst all of these celebrations, something that we forget is the fact that we live on the planet earth and hurt her in the name of festivals.

Yeah, the formula of the dye is kept confidential and it is organic, but it may encourage people to use their own dye and dump it the river which could cause harm to the environment. Plus this is used as smoke screen to dump trash into the river, which results in more pollution.

What can be done?

 Even in our place, in the name of Diwali, we pollute the air, water, soil, etc. which has a lot of adverse effects on our planet. There isn’t another planet like earth discovered till now and we have to be grateful for being alive in this planet as a human being with six senses and not as anything with less than 6 senses. Nature gave us those 6 senses to take responsibility of caring for the earth but we are doing the opposite.

A tree with a single sense tries to protect nature by taking up excess of carbon di oxide and giving out oxygen. When something with a single sense can do that much, why can’t we, the most advanced creatures of the planet, just stop polluting things? The answer lies within you. There are many harmless ways in which a festival can be celebrated. So think, reflect and act before its way too late!!

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