Hailing from Pune which is the cultural city of Maharastra, Ganesh festival holds a special place in every Punekar’s heart. This is where years ago Lokmanya Gangadhar Tilak started the ‘Samuhik Ganesh Chaturthi Celebration’ so that every person irrespective of his caste, religion and creed can take part and enjoy the festival. It was a way of uniting the already divided communities of India who were fighting against eachother in the name of religion, caste and creed.
During Ganesh Festival which is a 10 day celebration, huge ‘Pandals’ are put up where gigantic Ganesh statues are kept for public display and every evening pujaris do puja and offer ‘Prasad’ to all the devotees. Ganesh Aarti’s and popular film music keep on blarring out of the loud speakers and the entire city is lit with fairy lights.
Every year each pandal displayed a different theme eg: during the Jurrasic Park days every pandal displayed Dinosaurs themes and one can see Lord Ganesha riding Dinosaurs or killing them to save the human race. Entire night the city used to look like a huge fair as nobody slept during those days and went for seeing the Ganesha Pandals in the old city. There are special buses plying too and forth carrying people who wanted to have a dekho of these various Pandals. Street vendors have a good time selling off their wares and food items to the customers.
Ganesh festival is not only celebrated through pandals put in the street or societies but also at home. Days before the arrival of Ganeshji, my best friend Praveen and I used to decorate the space where we intended to keep Ganeshji in his house. Every year I celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi at his place. The day Ganeshji was to arrive we used to take care of every item that would be used for the puja. Coming from a secular household my parents never stopped me from performing Ganesh puja at Praveen’s house and it was a regular thing for me for past so many years before I shifted to Bangalore.
I miss each and every fun of Ganesh Puja that I enjoyed with Praveen and his family during my growing up days… How I wish I could rewind and go back to my past atleast during the Ganesh Festival and Diwali Festival seasons.
On this note I would like to end my today’s post and Happy Ganesh Chaturthi to all my friends and especially to Praveen who also miss me equally during this season….