Mumbai Memoir 39- Mumbai ‘touched by Ganesha’!
This year first time in my life I am experiencing Ganesh festival in and around North Mumbai. All these years I use to limit myself to experience the festival in and around South Mumbai. In my last year’s article titled ‘Blessed by the Elephant God!’, which was based on Ganesh festival, I had mostly written about the public celebration of the festival. Here’s the link to that article: https://b-c-ing-u.com/2014/09/19/mumbai-memoir-blessed-by-the-elephant-god/ But in this current article I have featured the festivities of homes that install Ganesh idols which bring joy and hope to the families that celebrate the festival with their kith and kin.
Ganesh festival (also referred as Ganpati Festival) is an annual event usually held in the month of September, which the Mumbai’kars (citizens of Mumbai) enjoy by installing an idol of Lord Ganesha (acknowledged as the first God of the Hindu mythology). Few families resolve to host the idol for 1 & half days, others for 5, 7, 10 days respectively. These days, 1 & half day and 5 days celebration has become popular in most of the families. During the festival, a statue of the elephant- head deity is placed at one’s home and is decorated with festive fervour. An oil lamp is constantly kept burning beside the idol for the entire period of the idol’s stay. The aroma of flowers & incense creates a mesmerizing ambience, as one relishes delicious sweets when one visits a family who has invited us to seek blessings. The positive feel one gets after entering one such home and by experiencing the vibrance of the festival is simply blissful!
Festivals help in creating mindfulness among people. It serves as a positive distraction from the ups and downs of life. By deciding to celebrate a particular festival with devotion and faith, the problems in one’s life may not practically go away, but such a practice helps the mind to temporarily engage in a positive mindset which charges oneself to get back to one’s routine life and sort one’s problems with fresh hope, ideas and confidence.
Besides the spiritual atmosphere that the festival creates in each home, a warm sense of togetherness, unity, gratitude towards the Almighty, generosity and optimism is experienced during the festival. Its surprising to also see the young generation of Mumbai engaging enthusiastically enjoying Bappa’s presence (Bappa means Lord) with their respective families. Irrespective of age, caste, class, or nationality, the sense of belonging and faith in the positive energy of the world (which I believe we refer it as ‘God’) draws a believer to such celebrations. I recently saw a video about Ganesh festival celebration in Thailand. Here’s its link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZvg3RYJCFA There is a vast difference between the Thai and the Mumbai celebration of Ganesh festival, but the sentiments and intention to praise the positive spirit of the universe, in the form of Lord Ganesh, is the same world-wide.
The theme of eco-friendly Ganesh idols and immersion arrangements too was seen in most parts of North Mumbai. The BMC, Mumbai’s Municipal Corporation, had created artificial tanks filled with 25 feet depth and 12 feet length in which idols up to 3 feet could be immersed locally. The service was free of charge to all the devotees thus encouraging people to avoid polluting the natural resource like the Arabian Sea or the lakes that surround Mumbai.
Besides the eco-friendly drive, this year’s Ganesh festival added yet another qualitative layer as families kept a donation box in front of the idol for visitors to contribute to the drought relief fund started by popular film stars from Mumbai’s Marathi film industry. Nana Patekar and Makarand Anaspure have started the NAM Foundation and urged the people of Mumbai to empathetically contribute money for the drought victims of Marathwada district of Maharashtra State. Here’s a link informing more about the NAM Foundation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuV7gyN_Kxo
Mumbai is on the move 24/7 and may seem emotionally cold from the outside. But when good people led the emotions of the city, Mumbai rises to the occasion and spreads the goodness with values of wisdom and righteousness, which are symbolical representation of Lord Ganesha.
Photo credits & edit: Shraddha C Sankulkar