Mumbai Memoir 61- ‘Eat Pray & Sing’ during Mumbai’s Ganpati Fest!
As the monsoon nears its end in Mumbai, a string of festivals line-up, thus colouring the cultural landscape of the ever buzzing town. Like many Indian festivals, the Ganpati fest too has religious & spiritual value. Ganpati is a popular name of Lord Ganesha, the elephant God, which the Mumbaikar’s (citizens of Mumbai) proudly admire as their favourite deity.
According to Hindu mythology, Lord Ganesha is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. On one occasion, little Ganesha (human form) was misjudged to be an enemy by his own father. In a fit of rage Lord Shiva chopped off Ganesha’s head only to realize later, that he killed his own son! On hearing about her son’s demise, Goddess Parvati furiously proclaimed to destroy all creations of the universe if Lord Shiva, with his divine powers, refused to bring their son back to life. Anticipating the consequences of Goddess Parvati’s anger, Lord Shiva asked one of the Gods to find the very first living creature facing north. The God found an elephant facing north and thus little Ganesha was brought to life by replacing his head with that of an elephant!
Its amazing to see Ganesh festival being celebrated in its improvised form even in modern era. The Ganesh idol that is installed in homes brings together the kith and kin of the family who hosts the deity during the festival. On this occasion, food, prayers, songs & dance electrify the homes and streets of Mumbai.
As per Hindu beliefs, Lord Ganesha is worshipped before offering prayers to any other God. This ritual is believed to generate an auspicious start for anything that one aspires to do or be in life. A mouse and ‘modak’ (a sweetened food preparation) are dear to Lord Ganesha. There is a deep symbolism associated with Lord Ganesha that propagates values towards seeking wisdom, prosperity, good fortune and more.
The ‘aarti’ and ‘bhajan’ sessions (devotional songs praising the virtues of Lord Ganesha) during the 10 day festival is a symbolic way to express one’s applauding appreciation and gratitude to the Almighty Power who has created this beautiful Universe and still prefers staying in the ‘invisible mode’!
Like every year, musicians come up with devotional songs praising the virtues associated with the worship of Lord Ganesha. This year my favourite being ‘Hey Gajavadan’ by Marathi music director Dr. Saleel Kulkarni. The best part of the video is that it features just not the well-known singers of the Marathi music industry, but it also features the Sound Engineers, instrument players & upcoming singers too, who have lifted the standards of their music industry in their own unique way. Click here for the song’s link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ay7jkK1xZ50 Another ‘Ganesh stuti’ song that is worth hearing has been composed & sung by Amey Gawand. It is a classic rock fusion song which has been beautifully executed by his band. Amey quotes “I have always aimed at preserving the organic nature of music through genres like Indian classical and classic rock & wanted to take a detour from the typical sounds of a Ganpati song. Therefore, I did not use the traditional dhol & other conventional stuffs”. I believe, the fusion surely will appeal the Gen-X of Mumbai & make them feel inclusive of the Ganpati festival fever. Here is its link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgFGvV4bWmw
There are chances that Westerners may find such captivating worship of an elephant God to be considered as superstitious and out of blind faith. Well, everyone perceives the concept of God as per their intellectual evolution. For a common Mumbaikar, the Ganesh idol acts as a pleasant assurance of ‘good times are on their way’ and ‘this too shall pass’! But as per my understanding of Ganesh festival, the mindfulness derived by whole-heartedly PRAYING (revising the virtues), EATING (delicious steamed modak) & SINGING (aartis & bhajans) on occasion of the festival, induces a positive charge to resourcefully solve one’s problems in life. The festival acts as a catalyst in pushing us positively & thus to take fresh guard to battle with life’s adversities. Psychologically, this projected feeling acts as a positive boost for a person to ‘move on in life’ with a smile on one’s face & hope in one’s heart!
Photo credits/edits: Shraddha Sankulkar, Geeta Sonawane, Nivedita Pednekar, Shirish Amberkar, Abhay Koltharkar, Vipul Mahagaonkar, Prasanna Koltharkar & free internet sources,
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