The underlying message of Ganesh Chaturthi festival…

We saw another year of great pomp and celebration for the most awaited festival. The presence of the elephant headed deity that symbolizes wisdom and considered to eradicate obstacles from our path spreads positive vibes all around. One cannot miss out the aura present around during the festival. Over the time, we have seen the celebrations evolve and taken to a new level every year; let’s try to trace back on how and why the festival started to understand if we are headed in the right direction of celebrations.

Disclaimer: NO! We are not discussing history here.

Ganesh Chaturthi was traditionally celebrated across households to symbolize the 4th day of Bhadrapada (Hindu luni solar calendar) which is considered as Lord Ganesha’s birthday. While the actual start of the festival is unclear it is considered to gain popularity in Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s reign while fighting the Mughals to spread a sense of equality among the masses. This was again revived during the British rule, to bring together different sections of the society and create a bond within to fight the external enemies. Clearly, both the events demonstrate the reason of the festival as bringing people together and spreading equality and harmony.

Over the years, the popularity of the festival has taken it across oceans. The involvement of people has always been on the rise for the festival. However, there is a different trend to the celebrations that are being observed. I have tried to summarize and share some of the prominently visible changes.

The idols were made out of clay which gets easily mixed in the water bodies with minimal pollution. While today we see gigantic idols made of Plaster of Paris and other artificial materials which pollute the water bodies. The Sarvajanik Ganeshostav Mandals that signify the location or group celebrating the festival is fast being replaced by the Rajas & Maharaja’s of the locality. The purpose of the change seems to be display of superiority of a group in a particular locality.

There is steep competition among groups or popularly known mandals/pandals for proving their superiority over others in all means possible. This competition often results in undue clashes amongst the groups clearly sidelining the basic purpose of the festival – sense of equality and harmony.

Along with wayward celebrations, people have started measuring devotion with gold and other pricey assets. People offering gold ornaments for idol worship are no surprise these days. Ironically, the myth says the Lord of wisdom likes offerings like durva, hibiscus flower, sweet ladoos and modaks. Ironical that we fail to understand the simple likings of the deity or are we confusing him for Lord Kuber or Goddess Lakshmi?

The other day while visiting a well known pandal, I saw many folded hands raised in the air. These were not for praying, but people trying to click a photo in whatever way they could. One can easily get a better and clear picture on the internet of famous pandals easily, then why not just live the moment and forbid the cell phones. People go on to the extent of clicking selfie with the Lord, just like they would with their friends.

While the thoughts might sound orthodox to some, the intention of penning it down is to spread the message – Preserve our culture & tradition while we present it to the next generation. We are a country rich in culture and we should not rob ourselves of our own wealth. The Lord accepts the devotees as they are, but it is the devotee’s responsibility to make his stay pleasant and serve the purpose of his visit.

Now let’s put our feet down and dance our heart out in the biggest free concert of the year.

Ganpati Bappa Morya!! Pudhchya varshi lavkar ya!!

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  1. Minal Chalke

    Well expressed, nice write up.

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