Ganpati festival is one important part of the year in the life of Mumbaikars.
When we talk about Ganpati festival the first name that needs mention and will continue to do so will be of our freedom fighter Shri. Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Setting up Sarvajanik Mandals has continued since then. His strategy to promote nationalism and bring Indians from all walks of life under one roof worked wonders. The festival has spread to lot of states across India. Now I see a lot happening. People from all walks of life not only celebrate but also find temporary earning associated with the festival. The festival unites and Shri Bal Gangadhar Tilak for this is priceless.
Preparation starts from booking the statue of Ganpati. Depending on the financial condition rich and poor love to go for the best obviously.
There are temporary shops set in every nook and corner of the city. They do become cause of concern with regards to traffic at times but a typical Mumbaikar is quick to adjust and ignore. This typically starts in first week of August every year. For first timers who get Ganpati Idol at home have to decide the number of days that they are going to keep Ganpati Idol. It is a difficult call. For the simple reason whatever you do in the first year has to be repeated as per the tradition and customs.
Normally relaxed Municipal Corporation also gets into action during this time of the year. They may not repair the roads completely but care is taken to fill the pot holes in the best possible manner so as to maintain dignity for at least a fortnight and smooth movement of vehicles carrying Ganpati Idols home and for Visarjan.
Housing Societies have their own Ganpati idol and functions. The best part is residents come together to manage the needs of the Pooja of this and they also manage their needs at home, i.e. Ganapati Idol.
One area that I have noticed being discussed is the need for Bhatji (panditji). Obviously the number of Bhatji are few and they have a hectic schedule right from morning to evening. What irritates all is Bhatji attending to phone calls in the midst of Pooja. But I have rarely seen anyone saying anything to Bhatji. With technology even Bhatji have become smart. Saw few Bhatji responding on WhatsApp while Mantra / Shlok continue.
BEST buses and Railways have special arrangement and timings. Municipal Corporation has its own set of role to play. Traffic and civil police have most challenging assignments. No one gets leave during these days. It is so easy to curse and comment on police and government servant. We need to think about their families. When we pray for ourselves and family, let us not forget these government departments. They make our festivals worth enjoying. Imagine if power goes off at night.
While the festival goes on for ten days the work in office does not suffer. Mumbaikars have a never say die attitude not because they :have some special genes running in their blood. But because most value time. You miss a 7:27 am local train from Vasai to Churchgate then it is as good as a day lost. There is bus you take after getting down. You miss that bus. Probably you would take a richshaw or a taxi depending where you have to get down. Chain effect is big.
Oh why am I forgetting some KADAK boss in office. These bosses are unique. No matter what happens they are always on time. And they never fail to tell their subordinates. “If I can come on time why can’t you?” The employee keeps thinking whether to give a fitting reply or not. At last he lets better sense prevails. How will he get salary hike and promotion if answer back (Panga).
Best part of the festival is that it brings people close from all walks of life.
While Lal Baugh ka Ganpatiji is most famous there is at least one famous from each locality. Most of the pandals have a theme. There is some competition to find best pandal. This is also an opportunity to communicate some social issues and also throw light on past history. Pandals across Mumbai and Maharashtra have used this opportunity every year to pass on excellent messsages.
And not to forget some crazy fans of Salman Khan. These fans travel from far off places to reach Galaxy Apartment before time on the day of Visarjan to get glimpse of entire family, which otherwise is not possible to common Mumbaikar.
There are NGO’s who get active to check sound pollution and are idle during rest part of the year. Then there are social activists who write articles on eco friendly Ganpati and at times some are seen in air conditioned studio even. Mumbaikar has a lot to say to these secular brigade but for want of time and limited resources they think, discuss in local trains and at Chai Ka Tapri while having their famous cutting Chaai and move ahead in life.
The conviction to celebrate never dies.
Picture Credit: www.bellevision.com