The tradition of collective celebration of Ganpati runs in my blood as a Mumbaikar. I grew up in Mumbai with huge theme based Ganpati idols, massive decorations, standing in long lines for darshan, participating in maha aartis, watching nightly entertaining programs and seeing chowpaty visarjans. Visiting Lalbagcha Raja, Ganeshgalli Mumbaicha Raja, Khetwadi Ganraj, and Sioncha Ganpati in big groups was our yearly ritual. Further, I was introduced to the Dagdusheth Ganpati Pune and the typical puneri style of Ganpati celebrations with Nasik dhol and tasha, lejim bands and ladies atharvasheersh chanting pathaks. Festivities in India are out of the world, which we definitely miss in abroad. Therefore, I catch up with the celebrations of Ganpati arrival and visarjan with my kids on YouTube. My kids have never experienced the festivities in Mumbai or Pune so they are overwhelmed with the kind of crowd and cheer in people. The questions they ask while watching these Ganpati videos are obvious from their perspective like why are these many people gathering in such a small place? How do these people look so happy and content? Where do they come from and where are they going? How do these people get the time, energy and dedication to participate in these carnivals? How do people of all class and communities forget their differences during this time of the year? Are they not scared of going in the crowd? Where are food, water and bathroom arrangements for these people?
And I say..…..“It is the strength of human spirit” that goes above and beyond the obstacles, doubts and reservations of human endeavors.
2015 was the eighth year of celebrating Ganpati festival at home. I made the typical Maharashtrian naivadya of varan bhaat, batatyachi bhaji, usal and ukdiche modak.
The highlights of this weekend were friends coming over, visiting Bayareacha raja in New Ark, my daughter’s participation in the cultural program there and Kareoke at a friend’s place. Avantika danced in a group represented by Megha Shetty’s, Bayarea Nritya Guru.
The New Ark Bayareach raja reminded me of Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai and Pune. The crowd, the big lines for darshan and Prasad and the ethnic sentiments there demonstrated how our cultural ties are deep rooted within us and we carry them wherever we go.