THE Ganpati festival: Colourful India

The festival of Ganpati is not just part of my dna because I live in maximum city but also an integral part of my growing years as a child. The city that never sleeps saw us kids become decisive, become an unbreakable group of friends, saw us become a great team ready to enhance each others strengths and play down weaknesses, saw us play like a team over the years with ever growing aspirations to increase our collections for the next years Ganpati so that we could bring an even larger idol than before.

In the first year ever of beginning this tradition of bringing Lord Ganesha into our building we went about collecting any and every donation that came our way -rupees 20 or 10 and occasional 50/- to collect enough funds from all the apartment owners in our building. Over the next few years even the neighboring buildings had started contributing seeing our intent, enthusiasm and success. We would put money together so that we could get a Ganesh Idol for our building and for the next 11 days it would be a non stop party for us. We would be dealing with cash all along and no ways did ever a single rupee get embezzled. That was the sincerity with which we’d deploy all our resources. Over the years our collections multiplied big time and we’d carry forward our balance to start the next year with enough funds. What pride and joy!

We would anticipate this festival in advance by months- all excited and equally nervous about the things we would do differently that year. And come the day of bringing home Ganpati Bappa we would all hire a large truck (sponsored by Dad initially) put on the band bajaa and slowly inch our way into the market area to buy the sweetest idol available on sale for ourselves within our collections. That day was special because Ganpatiji was arriving home. This was even bigger than Diwali for us. Emotionally speaking.

The next 11 days would roll seamlessly forward, merging night into day and day into night. We’d have collected enough funds to have a variety of different entertainment shows on every single night over the next 11 nights. We would be screening movies and have hundreds of people (including passer bys who would stop dead in their tracks and spend the next 3 hours watching the movie!), we were never allowed to go out of the home past 10pm (our bedtime) so we’d sneak to our balcony and watch the entire movie from upstairs. Wide awake, hating the fact we were not downstairs, agog at the crowd turnout and so proud that we had put it together with our own ideas, dreams and money

For prashad every night, the parents of us kids would do special prashad every day and that saw the owners of the building bonding. Which apartment was contributing prashad today tomo etc - some adults who had fought amongst themselves also would put aside their differences to be pleasant to each other during this time. This festival truly brought our building folks and neighbors closer.
Event management also included dandiya night, musical chairs, rangoli competition, singing, dumb charades, housie and such where the idea was to keep ourselves entertained. Very unconsciously we kept everybody else in the bargain entertained too:)

As a result our building Ganpati would have the largest public draw too. And this was never done by design- it was always our own imaginations leading us to do things we as kids enjoyed- turns out adults too enjoyed the same things :)- so we were the runaway success team of our locality

These 11 days would zip by so quickly that when the immersion day would arrive, we all hated that day. We’d have tears in our eyes seeing our sweety Ganeshji being immersed in the water, we’d cry all the way back in the truck watching other revelers with giant Ganpatis - yet to perform their immersions – looking so very happy. We would be morose, not utter a single word right thru the journey back home.

Once we got back to our building we’d all go to our respective homes and our parents would try to draw us into conversation or be extra nice to us knowing we were feeling sad, and anything done or said could trigger our tears again. We were not hungry or thirsty no more, we would simply slink into our rooms, pick up our respective story books to read and try and drown out reality to slip into the dream world of the past 11 days. Faintly in the background we would hear the music coming from the streets constantly reminding us of the many more Ganeshjis that were heading towards the beaches and the sea and that would crash our little hearts even deeper.

This festival is and can never be about caste, color or religion it is about bonding, purity and belief.


suzanna said...

Mee,the Ganpati festival has fascinated me for so long. No one has ever really told me the details. This piece, apart from doing that, left me goose-bumpy, smiling, and really happy to be an Indian and be witness to this every year :)

Mike said...

The form and mystique of Ganesha is no doubt endearing and it captures one and all, young and old.Lovely post Mee!

sheila said...

Ganesha is known as the Vignaraja-he is meant to reign over egotism. Though we may normally understand it to be the obstacles that we face in our material pursuits, in the truest sense it is the greatest obstacle, the ego which has to be removed to realize the greatest blessing of Self realization. Knowing one's true self alone confers eternal bliss.

May we thus surrender to the Lord on Ganesh Chaturthi understanding the essence of His manifestations and overcome our shortcomings to abide in eternal bliss.

Great learning from your post as kids there is no ego no hurdles that you cannot overcome. Great lesson:)

Jim said...

One day, two festivals!! Much happiness and lots of blessings on this Eid and Ganesh Chaturthi day Mee:)

melinda said...

Mumbais favourite God has arrived in style:)Happy Ganesh Chaturthi Mee! A lovely post. Had no idea!:)

Giribala said...

Interesting!! Such occasions brighten up our lives and I wish this should be said for each and every festival: "This festival is and can never be about caste, color or religion it is about bonding, purity and belief."

Anon said...

Hiii!! Happy Ganesh Chathurthi to you too! :) In my house, we do a small pooja and then go out to visit all the beautiful Ganpati mandals in our area. Really like the festive atmosphere that comes over Mumbai at this time. Hope you have a wonderful time with all the festivities and may Lord Ganpati bless you and your family with all the success and happiness in the world.


ashish said...

Ganpati Bappa Morya….!:)

RavneetSingh said...

I want to see Ganesh visarjan this time. Am told people get all drunk and sloshed and stuff?

kay said...

You have captured the festival so beautifully, the inocence of childhood and the exuberance. You can actually picture it. Ganpati bappa morya, pudcha varshi laukar ya.............

Anon said...

Dear Mee, same here, I too have great memories and i still enjoy this Festival. For me, as a child it was double fun since we bring Ganesh idol at home & plus we used to be actively involved in the building celebration. We used to keep the Lord for 5 days & dont ask how hectic it is use to be for my parents & my grandparents. But everyone used to be full of enthusiasm. When we were very small our grandparents taught us to decorate a small pandal at home with flowers, thermacol etc. As children we even had energy to take part in competitions etc in the nearby Sarvajanik Ganapati. As u say, this is one good occassion when all community & religion people come together with large, clear hearts. Though things have changed over the years this season still brings the same excitement when it comes but some new horrifying threats and dangers to move in crowded pandals spoils the fun.The enjoyment is limited to the house and the building celebration only for 2 days. Ofcourse, none of us have got that amount of time to actually enjoy like before. Yet it is one great, common celebration i think every Mumbaikar enjoys to some extent.

Wih love,

Kaumudi Pradhan

AlphaTauri said...

That's a very lively description of Ganesh Utsav I have read in a long time.

I am the co-author and admin (along with Subir) of the blog Technosophy. Thanks for blogrolling us. I'll blogroll you back.

Mee said...

@Suz- anytime:)

@Mikey: ty:)

@Shell:Amen to that:)

@Jimmy: felt very special indeed with both huge festivals coming together:)

@Mel: Indeed Mumbais fave God has arrived to :munni badnam hui" if you pls:) hahah!

@Giriabla- O absolutely - tho must confess this year the harmony in the city is palpable! knock on wood!:)

@Mughda- May He also bless you and your family:)

@Ash- soon it will be time to say "pudchya varshi laukar ya:("

@RS- a handful of people who do that does not constitute "all"

Mee said...

@Kay- can I pls have your email id?

@Kaumudhi - so so true:)

@AlphaTauri- thnx for swinging by:) I love reading Technosophy:)

Dr. Sohrab Arora said...

Made my mom read ur post. and guess what, we've decided to celebrate the fest next year in punjab :)

Neeraj said...

This is probably the only thing left in India that is not about caste, colour or religion. :)

Mee said...

@Dr. Sohrab Arora: Great news:) Do remember me in your prayers next yr:)

@Neeraj: your comment actually made me search in my head - that surely there must be many more things which are equally harmony seeking- and I came up with thin air:( (most things celebrated have a touch of religion to it- and religion is never far from politics- sad state of affairs!)

Rahul said...

I've never witnessed Ganpati festival myself but this post has made me feel as if i'm in Mumbai celebrating it.
The best thing about this festival is how within few days we fall in love with Ganesha, how He becomes a part of our family. The celebrations that goes on for days night and day non stop.
In few words you have summed it all. In just 11 days how people fell in love with Him doesn't matter we are kids or adults. Its all about that common feeling that's there in all of us.
I'm glad that i read this post....