As “Ganesh Chaturthi” approaches and devout Hindus await the arrival of Shree Ganesh-ji, the purity of this festival is tarnished by politics and cheap publicity by black/illegal money lobby.
It has been stated in the history books that it was “Lokmanya” Bal Gangadhar Tilak who started the tradition of community celebrations of Ganesh festival in 1892. The idea was to bring people from all classes and castes onto one religious platform to establish the spirit of Bharatiya (Indian) unity and enable them to become a force against the British Empire that ruled India in those days.
For the initial fifty years or so, our festivals were conducted with great pride and high moral standards. Somewhere from the early 1980s, our Hindu festivals started to degenerate into cheap shows. The Aartis (Hymns) which used to be recited in pure Sanskrit in Maharashtra and North India were replaced with recitals in local languages. These further degenerated into hymns being played as recorded music. The original recitals were accompanied by cymbals. Soon, various types of drums joined the musical choir, the thumb-rule being “louder the better”. When this was replaced by recorded aartis, there came the need to use loud-speakers. The use of loud-speakers was initially only during aarti-time, but now they are used all day (and late into night) – to play cheap, double-meaning songs from Hindi movies.
Initially, dances during the festivals were classical, representing our Bharatiya culture. Now it’s quasi-disco-dancing. Dancers, drunk on beer or cheap country liquor shake their behinds in front of the Lord Ganesha statue and pretend that they are actually talented dancers. The festival has gone from being a culturally rich event that used to represent our culture, to a shameless display of vulgarity – without any limits of decency or decorum.
The statues of Shree Ganesh itself have been transformed into display of money power. The sizes of the statues (and their weights) have grown staggeringly bigger – a monument to the sponsor’s money-spending capacity. Earlier, monetary funds for festivals used to come from willing donors who took part in every aspect of the festival. Now, the money is extorted from local shopkeepers and traders, using festival as an excuse. All this while the ruling Government of the day ignores reality – or worse sponsors it under the excuse of religious freedom. Read more about this here
125 years later, this festival has been turned into a cheap stunt. Over the last 20 years, the festival has been taken over by politicians, criminals, local goons and ‘contractors of Hindu Religion’. [Contractors of religion are those who claim that they are the “experts” on how the festival should be conducted and more importantly – who is qualified to conduct it correctly]. The fact that there are no qualitative standards to define the capabilities of such contractors to make their claims is conveniently overlooked.
One such prime example is a trust called ‘Shrimant Bhausaheb Rangari Ganapati Trust’; who claim that it was someone called Bhausaheb Laxman Jawale aka Bhausaheb Rangari who organized the Community based Ganapati Festival for the first time in 1892; and not Lokmanya Tilak. Be as that may be; they cannot remove the perception from people’s minds about who actually organized this festival 125 years ago. When Pune Municipal Corporation planned to celebrate 125 years of Community based Ganesh Festivals, this Bhausaheb Rangari Trust sent a legal notice to the Government of Maharashtra and the Pune civic body – seeking to STOP their preparations of celebration. To add to this controversy, the current mayor of Pune; Mrs. Mukta Tilak – who is the wife of the 5th generation Lokmanya Tilak descendent has refused to go by the claims of this Trust and has reaffirmed her position that it was Lokmanya Tilak who started the Community Ganesh Festival and not Bhausaheb Rangari. The Contractors are clashing with the Politicians – all for the “rights” to celebrate a festival that actually belongs to every Hindu; regardless of caste, creed or social status; when they should actually be cooperating with each-other to make the festival a rich, cultural event.
Yes, my religion is under attack – not from other religions or faiths, but from the “contractors” of my own faith. These uneducated, uncivilized, immoral groups of social leaders, activists, criminals and politicians have hijacked my Hindutva and made it into cheap entertainment.
THIS HAS TO STOP.
We need a code of conduct to allow our festival to regain its true status and pride in society. Enforceable rules have to be framed that control the following aspects:
1) Financial accounting of the so called “Ganesh Mandals” and their sources of income.
2) Maximum size and weight of the Shree Ganesh idol has to be defined to ensure safety.
3) Banning of “entry-fee” into Shree Ganapati pandals.
4) Full ban on covering the Ganapati statue from public. [My Lord Ganapati is not a Muslim that his statue has to be hidden behind cover – like a burkha covering a women’s face]
5) Complete ban on alcoholic liquor, Beer, country liquor, etc within 500 meters of any Shree Ganesh display.
6) Complete ban on Loud-speakers, synthesizers and electronic music instruments.
7) Total ban on playing of recorded music during any part of the worship ceremony or any cultural programs. [Let there be opportunities for local musical talent and singers to display their talent without depending on electronic instruments].
8) Total ban on any form of vulgar dances during Shree Ganesh processions and in front of the statues.
9) Enforcement of moral and civil laws – to supersede the so-called ‘freedom-of-expression’ that insults my Hindutva.
10) Harsh punishment for those who violate the above code-of-conduct rules and laws.
Take back our religion from the Contractors [Thekedars] and make is morally pure again. Join-in the effort to “Keep Hindutva Great Always”.
Jai Bhavani, Jai Maharashtra.
Picture Credit: विकिपीडिया
Author: ‘Sardar’ Sanjay Matkar