Sunday, October 03, 2004

ganapati bappa moriya

The ten day long Ganesh festival is celebrated in Maharastra in a gorogeous manner.

This year it commence from the 18th September.

Originally a festival celebrated in the confines of ones homes, it has now become a Public show celebrated with pomp and grandeur, a sort of mass movement. India’s Iron man Bal Gangadhar Tilak, during the freedom fighting days, used this opportunity to unite the masses against the British. Today, Tilak is not there but the tradition carries on. Donations are pooled together from the common man and huge pandals are erected, extensively decorated with lights and adorned with large images of Lord Ganesh, popularly known as Ganapati. Each celebration committee tries to outdo the other in decoration and lighting and, young and old move from pandal to pandal taking in the spectacles with awe. Political patronage adds a new dimension and makes competitions more intense. With 2004 being declared as the Election year, the codes of conduct defined by the EC cannot be violated. Hence, brains are working overtime to identify escape routes, so that the dictates of the EC are taken into account while formulating the programmes and controlling the extent and magnitude of celebrations.

Last year I had seen a Ganesh made of cashew nuts, almonds and copra (dried coconuts). It drew crowds only for its innovative presentation. The annual Pune festival is celebrated during these festivities. TV channels transmit video footages of these pandals so that, even without moving from the house, we can enjoy and be a part of the festivities.

In the recent past, quite a number of our youngsters have shifted overseas to take advantage of greener pastures. They are fondly called NRIs. In order to cater to their needs, innumerable websites have cropped up offering a whole range and variety of products and services. Knick-knacks like key chains, lockets, wrist bands with the motif of Ganesh are usually in great demand. These could be of gold or silver or even platinum embedded with precious stones. Money is no problem for the NRIs because they pay in dollars and use credit cards. There are also photographs and paintings on sale. Vendors eagerly wait for the smallest of excuses to dump leftovers on the unsuspecting Public and festivals of such magnitude present them with wonderful opportunities. The products are non perishable; hence a bit of polishing can do the trick!

Then, there are the sites which help you to perform the Puja yourself – the mantras are uttered with perfect diction and, accompanied by appropriate devotional music in the background, one momentarily forgets that he is in Memphis, USA and not in Mumbai!! The process rekindles old memories and brings back what is called ‘home sicknesses’.

On the 14th day that is on Anantha Chaturdashi the images are immersed in the local rivers or lakes. In Mumbai, these are immersed in the Arabian Sea. The TV networks dutifully relay the complete proceedings and, the preparations are really and truly breathtaking. With chantings of ‘ganapatti bappa moriya, pudcha barsha laukar ya!’ we bid adieu to the Lord Ganesh requesting him to come early next year.