I began with this article during my 4 day’s long weekend vacation ( courtesy to wonderful festive season of Ganesh Utsav ) but some how got stuck up with work so couldn’t publish it at the time of Ganesh Ustav, but as it is said by wise men, “better late than never..” 😉 . So I published it now in the week post the festival..
Ganesh Utsav is actually the longest running Hindu festival in entire year. ‘Ganesh Ustav’ most popularly celebrated in Maharashtra, can be divided into 1.5 days, 5 days, 8 days and finally 11 days of celebration of arrival of Lord Ganpati who is considered as Sukhkarta (one who grants happiness) and Dukhharta (one who destroy’s sorrows) at his devotees household every year to bless them with well being, prosperity and content.
It has been practiced to since ages to bring Ganesha idol ( made up of clay in earlier day’s, but now mostly they are made up of plaster of Paris to make them strong enough to bear the jerks of never ending potholes on the road while their journey… 😉 ) to house, and worshiped for around 11 days.
Poeple create or purchase decorated Makhar (temporary mandir ) made of thermocal or nowdays considering various eco-friendly options like cane basket, flowers, colored paper or clothes. Lord Ganesha is served with various delicacies especially with modak(sweet made up rice / wheat flour with coconut and jaggery stuffing), ladoos, fruits, dry fruits & milk-made food products. 🙂
Role in History
Historical records reveal that Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations were initiated in Maharashtra by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja, a great Maratha ruler, to promote culture and nationalism. And it had continued ever since. There are also references in history to similar celebrations during Peshwa times. It is believed that Lord Ganapati was the family deity of the Peshwas. After the end of Peshwa rule, Ganesh Chaturthi remained a family affair in Maharashtra from the period of 1818 to 1892.
In 1893, Indian freedom fighter and social reformer Lokmanya Tilak transformed the annual domestic festival into a large, well-organized public event. Tilak recognized the wide appeal of the deity Ganesh as “the god for everybody”,and popularized Ganesh Chaturthi as a national festival in order “to bridge the gap between Brahmins and ‘non-Brahmins’ and find a context in which to build a new grassroots unity between them”, and generate nationalistic fervor among people in Maharashtra against the British colonial rule.Tilak encouraged installation of large public images of Ganesh in pavilions, and also established the practice of submerging in rivers, sea, or other pools of water all public images of the deity on the tenth day after Ganesh Chaturthi.
Under Tilak’s encouragement, the festival facilitated community participation and involvement in the form of intellectual discourses, poetry recitals, performances of plays, musical concerts, and folk dances. It served as a meeting ground for people of all castes and communities in times when, in order to exercise control over the population, the British discouraged social and political gatherings.
To begin with experiences, let me begin with most popular one..yes indeed how can we not discuss about “Lalbaghcha Raja” when it comes to Ganesh Utsav. Located at Lalbaug market, Lalbaugcha Raja is one of the oldest sarvajanik (public) Ganesh festivals of Mumbai established in 1934.
Lalbaugcha Raja is truly a King in all respects and it pays to seek his audience.
A mere glance of the deity which is labeled as mukh darshantakes about two-and-a-half-hours wait in the queue during weekdays and eight to nine hours during weekends.Lakhs of people turn up from far-off places, including foreigners, and stand for hours in queues running into several kilometres only to get a ‘darshan’ of the idol at Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal.For the devotees who go seeking the fulfillment of their prayers to the Lord, it is more arduous path, as it takes about six hours during the weekdays particularly during the initial days.
It takes several weeks to count the cash and make a itinerary of the donations made in kind such as gold and silver ornaments by unidentified devotees.
I also spared some moments of peaceful evening hours visiting at few Ganesh Utsav mandal’s in nearby locality. They indeed added to my pleasure of this festive mood. They not only entertained but also had many things to learn. 🙂
Time is money
To begin with I went to visit ‘Dahisarcha Maharaja ‘ here they educated people with a simple yet valuable message of ‘Time is money, don’t waste it else your life would be in vain ‘. The decoration’s were eye pleasing with small model of ‘ Jantar Mantar ‘ , water fountains, huge colored curtains, dancing, talking dolls all around each gave a special message for better living.
To explain value of time they had used quite a day to day examples; to know importance of an year ask a student who has failed in academics, to know the importance of a month ask a mother who has given birth to a pre-mature child, to know importance of a day ask people who work on daily wages, to know importance of an hour ask a student
who is late for his exam, to know importance of a minute ask a man who has missed his train / bus & to know importance of a second as an athlete who lost his olypmic medal due to difference of few seconds…that the reason I call ‘Ganesh Utsav ‘ a festival of values, because they teach us some many things which we often tend to ignore or forget during our so called fast forward life 🙂
Hope for the best
After this thought provoking importance of time a went to small mandap by roadside, It was a smaller mandal (group) with lesser decoration compared to others but still it also taught me with nice message and that ‘ Hope for the best ‘ . Yes the Ganesha murti (idol) here was simply amazing. I was much attracted towards the eyes of Ganesha showering love & blessings for all his devotees. Surrounding Ganesha was a scene showing future of Mumbai, yes indeed it was bright one. 🙂 It showed a pollution free Mumbai, with beautifully built and maintained bridges, sky walks & roads. It also showed smoothly running model of metro train which soon expected to be employed in Mumbai. Seeing this excellent creation even I prayed to Ganpati Bappa for making Mumbai city as beautiful as in this dream model of Mumbai to Shanghai. 😉
Together We can
On my way ahead I saw a building decorated with vibrant colored lights, on seeing such beautifully decoration, my enthusiastic nature said to me, I must go there… and my legs turned towards it without any hesitation. Here was magnificently beautiful Ganesha murti (idol) it sparkled with a combination of golden & orange color. Ganesha was indeed happy, because he was served with a plate full of modak, fresh fruits, dryfruit barfi.. 🙂 . There was a drawing competition organized for children in the society at that society hall. All school going kids gathered in the hall with their colors, papers, pens, sketch pens, chalks spread all over, they made atmosphere full of life. I could actually sense the feeling of togetherness amongst people living in that society which indeed brought a smile on Ganesha’s face 🙂 both kids & adults were completely involved with full enthusiasm. They seemed to be together as one family with all the kids playing around with colors, and adults encouraging them for their art… I am facebook freak 😉 so I said to myself , I ” like ” it.
India faces each day whether you name it is ever increasing inflation, world wide spreaded corruption or terrorism. They had drawn images showing the ever growing balloon of inflation. Images also showed how only at the time of election, politicians remember the power of common man and come to his house begging for votes 😦 . Actually they played an act of 10 -12 minutes explaining each issue in depth, It began with a situation where a man want’s his son to get an admission in ‘ medical college ‘ ( which is actually now becoming impossible for middle class people in India.) because college trustee ‘s demand for indefinite donations ranging from 5 lakhs to 25 lakhs for lending admission’s in their college inspite of the fact that, student scores fairly well in entrance exams.
After overcoming such an adverse situation, if someone complete his graduation with flying colors he is left without job because, he has no references from any big shots. To add up to his misery there is always a corporate term ready known as ‘ global recession ‘ leaving him either pink slipped (terminated from job) or totally jobless then there is only 1 option left for him to earn his livelyhood and that is either to become a ‘ gangster ‘ or ‘ terrorist ‘.
At the climax of the act, his highness Chhtrapati Shivaji Maharaj steps in and appeals to audience asking whether to see this day did he & his fellow men sacrificed their life, happiness and comfort completely. Is this what we call ‘ swaraj ‘, where common man in India is no more than ” Gandhiji’s 3 monkeys who have closed their mouth, ears & eyes not against what is bad but against all the injustice done to us.” To end on better note, Shivaji Maharaj prays on behalf of all the people to Ganpati Bappa, to forgive us and bless us with courage to stand aginst injustice, corruption & terrorism. I was completely fascinated by their creative and thought provoking act. At that time itself, the thought of sharing this experience on ‘Direct Dil se’ came to my mind. 🙂
Save Girl Child.
Moving ahead with a thought to pen down my share of experiences, I went to checkout “Dahisarcha Raja Ganesh Utsav Mandal’s Ganpati ” it had quite a different yet valuable message to convey. They played an act of around 10 minutes. To present the issue of ‘ female feteocide ‘ which inspite of being a crime, continues to grow at remarkable rate still in India. I remembered my share of thoughts on this issue which I convey in my article ‘ Equality Status ‘. 🙂 They also gave examples of exemplary achievements of daughters of India like, Kiran Bedi, Pratibha patil, Madhuri Dixit, Madhubala, Kalpana Chawla, Sania Mirza and many more.
There act ended on a beautiful note, specify ” Women ” with bunch of lines below:
Beautiful Creations of Ganesha..
You can Feel Her INNOCENCE – In the form of A DAUGHTER…
You can Feel Her CARE – In the form of A SISTER…
You can Feel Her WARMTH – In the form of A FRIEND…
You can Feel Her PASSION – In the form of A BELOVED…
You can Feel Her DEDICATION – In the form of A WIFE…
You can See Her DIVINITY – In the form of a MOTHER…
True to the meaning of word isn’t it ?…
Thoughts and many more thoughts… I always have when I begin to write something..but time doesn’t permit me for more on this… it’s actually pretty much late need to get back to work now…so as to have a good and enjoyable weekend which I always look forward for.. This weekend is indeed a special one as I plan to spend it with a group of best friends…
Here wishing you all must have enjoyed reading this article on ‘Ganesh Utsav’ which I added as a tribute to lord Ganesha who is considered as lord of words and literature. I will definitely try to implement values and morals conveyed by the really appreciable efforts of all the people involved in building this sarvajanik ( for everyone ) Ganesha festival, hope you all will do the same.
May lord Ganesha bless each one of us with good health, great work & never ending happiness in coming year. signing off for now.