Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ganpati Bappa Morya!

The ten days of Ganeshotsav were celebrated with pomp and glory all over the country, especially in Mumbai. Hour long aartis took place inspite of the very busy Mumbai life. Smell of fresh prasads had filled the otherwise dusty and polluted Mumbai air. Loud chants of Om Ganeshaya Namaha from the speakers replaced the honking of vehicles on the Highways. On the eve of Ganesh Chaturthi, I was at Bandra at 11pm. I saw a group of Muslims playing dhols and taking an idol of Lord Ganesha home, just like any Hindu would do. That one moment I might not forget for my entire life. Who says there is unrest in India between Hindus and Muslims? Whoever said that should have been there with me. It was a wonderful sight.
Next morning I performed the puja at home and visited friends and neighbours. Every evening I tried to reach home early for aarti. On the way to college and on the way back I saw many mandals. They had spent loads of money in decorating their pandals. At the entrance, however they made it a point to erect a banner of the political parties that had sponsored their pandals. Before visiting Shri Ganesh you had to first say hello to Madam Sonia Gandhi, Mr. Rahul Gandhi, Shri. Balasaheb Thakeray or some MP or MLA. It was all fine until one day. That one day I was just thinking about how much money comes to Lalbaugcha Raja. How rich the mandal is. How much money people donate to the mandal. That is when the following thought struck to me. Amidst all this, we have forgotten the person who laid the foundation stone of this 10 day long celebration, Lokmanya Balgangadhar Tilak. He who revolutionized this festival. Without whom there wouldn't have been a 10 day long celebration like what we have now. What a genius he was. He educated people during this 10 day long celebration. Not only that, but the festival also created oneness among all the sections of the society. It is not just a Hindu festival. It commemorates the beginning of a revolutionary era in our country. Ganesh Chaturthi is an entire nation's festival.
I am sure you readers might have seen a lot of mandals during the 10 day long Ganeshotsav. Try and recollect how many of them had Lokmanya Balgangadhar Tilak's picture among the Congress, BJP and Shiv Sena leaders. I saw only one on a Shiv Sena sponsored Mandal's entrance, but guess whose picture was bigger than Balgangadhar Tilak's picture. I bet you cannot be wrong.

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