Today is Ganesh Chaturthi, the birthday of the elephant god who brings success to new endeavours, is the gatekeeper for all new things, is chubby, jolly and loves his Modaks (steamed or in the form of sweets).
Ganesh Chaturthi has always meant a lot to me. As a lonely child, it marked some days spent visiting friends who kept the idol at home. It meant sweets and yummy halwa served as prasad, time spent at the community pandals singing the aarti, checking out the innovative backdrops that each pandal boasted of. It also meant time spent at home with mom, reading about the festival and telling her about it.
From not knowing much about Ganesha (Goddess Durga is revered the most in Bengal and Ganesha in Maharashtra), she went on to become a devotee, even seeking his blessings at every turning point in our lives. When friend had an accident, she sought Ganesha’s intercession, when I was facing trouble at work, again it was Ganesha she turned to.
When I started working I started visiting the larger pandals near my office. It had a unique thrill to it. With the sound of drums and cymbals in the background, you jostle through the crowds for a glimpse of the idol. It has a charm of its own, you are swept through the whole process, almost like boarding or getting down from the crowded Mumbai local trains. There are hawkers selling greasy snacks, trinkets, small idols and sweets along the roads.
This year, being a period of mourning, there will be no attending of the festivities at anyone’s home or at the pandals. But the memories will keep me company till next year when I will again head for the pandals to meet Ganesha.
P.S. A friend once remarked that Indians have so many festivals so that the year flies away fast amidst all the festivities. And I believe it is so. I will miss mom every year but I know that wherever she is she will be happy knowing it’s festival time, her favourite time of the year.