It’s time to welcome our beloved elephant god Ganesha in our homes and hearts! Tomorrow is Ganesh Chaturthi, the birthday of our favourite Lord and commencement of 10 days long Ganesha festival that will colour the entire country in its mood – more so our city of Mumbai! There’s festivity all around – Pandals are doing last minute finishing touches to be ready to welcome mammoth Ganesha idols, homes are being cleaned and decorated to bring the Lord home for a period ranging from 1.5 to 3 to 5 to 7 to 10 days and markets, which are witnessing an unprecedented recession, are suddenly flooded with hordes of buyers doing last minute purchases for the ensuing festival.
Actually, awareness about the festival and popularity of this elephant god sank in completely after we moved to Mumbai. Earlier, we knew that the festival was celebrated with special fervour in Mumbai, mainly through Bollywood, but after coming to Mumbai, we couldn’t resist but got immersed in great spirit of this hugely popular festival. This year we will be bringing Lord home for the 17th year in a row. This is a tradition that we became aware of after coming to Mumbai and we have been able to maintain for past so many years, notwithstanding come what may! This has all been possible because of Lord’s blessings and his willingness to be our guest.
And what a guest he is indeed! The moment he enters our house, things are not the same! There are other guests coming over to seek his blessings, variety of sweets and foods, chanting of mantras and a general all round gaiety. How the time passes is something very difficult to explain! And then suddenly it’s time for Bappa to go back to reunite with his mother, a folklore and faith this immersion of his idol is symbolic of ! And he carries with him all our sorrows, grievances and ailments and creates a new energy and hope to last till his arrival next year.
The festival is little akin to Durga Mahotsav celebrated with special fervour in Bengal. Like the efforts of Raja Ramamohan Roy, the efforts of Bal Gangadhara Tilak made celebration of this festival sarvajanik or public with group of residents/people coming together and celebrating rather than it being celebrated privately in individual households. This lends an element of community and social significance to this festival.
We are all agog at the very thought of Bappa’s arrival this year like we have always felt during all those last 17 years ! As we always discuss, earlier we would only wait the whole year around for Diwali; Mumbai and Bappa added Ganesh festival to the occasions we wait for!
Ganpati Bappa Moriya!