The Modern Ganesh Chaturthi — beyond religion & celebrations!
My family celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi for 10 days at our home for a very long time. I have fond memories of going to my native in childhood to celebrate it with my cousins. It’s the time I definitely look forward to and over the year with the changing context, I was reflecting on what it means to me this afternoon after completing Ganesh Pratishthapana.
I’m not big on religious festivities although everyone in my family loves the second half of the Indian year when most festivals take place. Over the years, festivals have commercialized and sometimes may feel like losing the soul in the excessive noise of being an event. And thus, when we completed the installation of Ganesha at my home this morning — I was thinking about what draws people to festivals like this beyond the glitter and buzz.
It’s about connections:
At the heart of the Ganesh festival — it’s connecting people which was the main reason the festival started in the pre-independence era. The only time in the year an introvert like me opens my invisible shield to meet my housing society random folks is Ganesha Festival. It’s a time like this when my brother and his wife come to my home and we all work together to create the Ganesha decoration as one. I’ve to admit that I’m a backstage artist while they do the hard work. The fact that so many people come together in pandals to perform Aarti every day, to me isn’t about the religious part but Aarti becoming the common lingo for everyone. This afternoon itself I found myself guiding society kids on the drama they are performing.
It’s about experience & memories
One of my favourite memories in my childhood was going to see Ganesha pandals in Pune at the night. To be honest, I hate big crowds but despite that, watching thousands of people chanting Ganpati Bappa Morya is capable of transforming any negativity into positive with the right intent. Watching my family preparing the Modaks and later enjoying it together is an experience greater than any salary hike. Festivals like these create opportunities for everyone to express, cherish and celebrate in their own ways. I hope our generation can pass on this gift to the generations to come.
It’s about inclusion
Ganesh festival is more of a social festival than a religious one which is why I love the inclusion it embraces. Folks carrying the Ganesha idol on their head do not carry the baggage of social polarization that we see and experience. Festival by design is inclusive to bring together everyone. I’ve seen so many families start to bring in the idols at home even if it was not a tradition; love the way they build new traditions. Being traditional is not just about blindly following the old ones but also to build/celebrating new ones.
I really hope we pass on the energy, positivity and social fabric that is sustainable to the next generations in midst of so much negativity/hate and division in society and in personal lives. Ganesha, the god of starting new would always inspire us to identify the roots of who we are as humans beyond our own greed.
I hope next we say Ganpati Bappa Morya, we understand Morya means to come forward (Mhor-ya in Marathi), as humanity, society and an individual.