I distinctly remember the year. It was 2001 and we were only a couple of months old in Mumbai trying to come to terms with life in the city that was known the world over for the speed at which it moved. 7.45 morning bus to Andheri station to catch 8.15 am local so as to reach Churchgate by 9 am and my office at Cuffe Parade by 9.30 am. Ditto routine on the way back.
And then it was time for Ganesh Chaturthi. Our neighbour suggested that we should go to Juhu beach to see immersion of 1 and a half day idols. It was an exhilarating experience, something never seen before! Hordes of people chanting “Ganpati Bappa Moriya “ totally saturated in the love of their favourite elephant God who, after being their guest for 1.5 days, was going back to his mother’s lap but in the process taking all the woes of his devotees and blessing them with yearlong happiness!
I and my wife were totally flabbergasted with this experience and decided from the following year we would also bring home Lord Ganesha as our guest, celebrate his stay at our place and then immerse him in the sea.
And indeed we fulfilled our dream, a tradition that we have been consistently observing non stop for last 18 years or so. Bringing the lord home, preparing special food ( Prasadam), inviting our friends and neighbours for darshan and Prasad and seeing him off next day is a celebration that we eagerly wait for each year.
This year, however, my wife is nursing her brother, a terminal stage cancer patient living his last days and is not in Mumbai. However, she doesn’t want this tradition to break and I will be doing all the aforesaid celebratory rituals albeit on a smaller scale ( actually all by myself, sharing Prasad with security and other helping staff of our building)!
Life’s realities are unpredictable. We are thankful that we got an opportunity to celebrate this traditional festival for so many years non-stop, shall be doing so this year albeit mutedly.
While personal problems and grievances are part of one’s life, let’s collectively pray to Bappa to take this coronavirus with him so that the entire mankind can relive this beautiful world full of lord’s largesse blessings. We may not be able to meet Lalbagcha Raja, who is giving his audience a miss after 84 years or go pandal hopping or celebrate the festival with traditional gaiety and fervour with our friends and relatives like always, hopefully this Ganesh festival will end our woes and the next year’s festival will be back with all its traditional glory!
Ganpati Bappa Moriya!