Being a Maharashtrian, ganesh festival always occupied that special place in my heart. As kids, we were always excited about the Ganapati celebrations. It was a small two day event at my granny's place. Little joys came up in their own way. Decorating the Ganesh idol. Helping granny with the modak preparations. Plucking hibiscus flowers from the backyard garden. They say lord Ganesha loves red flower. Kids were given the task of making durva to be offered to the idol. Durva is made up of field grass; each grass comprising of 3 leaf strands and 21 such grass stems combined to form one durva. Prayers were simple. To give wisdom. Good health and good marks in the quarterly exam which was held a few days before the festival. Performing the quintessential aarti was my favorite part. I have always loved the rthyme of those chants. The night was spent doing Jagraan. Jagraan is to stay awake the entire night; kinda giving company to god. We were told god would be upset, that if we don't stay awake. Not the fear but the faith and belief in god kept us awake.
The next day visarjan remained simple. Some 7-8 families in the village with their ganapati idols proceeded in the procession towards the beach. We kids carried an extra set of clothes; as along with the Ganesha idol immersed, we took a dip in the water. We did carry a plastic pouch; for our little palms couldn't fit in all the prasads distributed by different families. Back home we came drenched. Although the idol is immersed but that night also aarti is being performed for the sand which is picked from the sea during immersion. I can quote many such instances of the ganesha celebrations during my childhood; not because I am a religious person or something. Bcuz those days were happy days. Small family gatherings, preparing the lunch together and distributing prasad in the neighbourhood. No loud music, no pompous sound but just the little ways of joy that brought smile on my granny's face; I remember that so very much.
Wish things remained that simple. Today my only concern was to reach home safely. Escaping the traffic. Escaping those drunkyards dancing outrageouly in the procession. What if they spill the colors over you. What if you get stuck on the way home. Celebration of this festival was started by the great freedom fighter Balgangadhar Tilak during the national struggle for independence to build peace & harmony amongst the people of different religion and caste. The communal riots in muzaffarnagar occuring few days before this festival is in itself a contradiction to the very basic foundation for which this festival is being celebrated.
Today I see the view of hussainsagar lake from my terrace. Beautifully litted with the lights for the immersion. Tommorow there would be cranes pulling the remnants of the immersed idols. And needless to say bulk of money already being spent in the 'Save hussainsagar lake campaign'. Do we have all these to offer to the lord of wisdom? Aren't there any other saner ways to celebrate this. Making clay ganesha idols at home. Coloring those with pastels. Immersion in bucket filled water at home. Collecting funds; not to play loud music or perform drunkard dancing but for a social cause. For an orphanage. For those unprivileged children. Getting little ways of joy ain't that difficult; just that we need to change our perspective with time. The lord of wisdom deserve to be celebrated with more conscience and with more saner ways.