Sukhkarta Dukhharta Varta Vighnachi ||
These 10 days, we all have heard this aarti at least once a day. Now if you start decoding this line it says ‘Oh Lord who gives happiness and joy, take away all the sadness, and obstacles (vighna) from one`s life’. Ganpati Bappa holds a very special place in my life, as on the eve of auspicious Ganesh Chaturthi, he bought me to this beautiful world, apart from this self proclamation!:) Since I was a toddler, I have seen my parents’ religiously visiting Morya Gosavi temple in my area. My association of a powerful entity being the driving force has always being Lord Ganesha.
Two things intrigued me to pen down thoughts about ‘What Ganesh Chaturthi means to me & everyone around’ first is a brief discussion with a friend about the history of celebrating Ganesha festival , followed by the experience I wish to share with you all. Let us start with the history of this festive fever. The lord with the elephant trunk is welcomed during the Bhadrapada season with Prana Pratistha- ritual of inviting lord Ganesha, followed by singing hymns from rigveda, and ganpati atharvashirsha. Tracing the purpose of this movement which started with a social gathering turned now to a celebration, it all started during the Maratha power in Maharashtra under Shivaji Maharaj`s reign in Pune. Peshwas in Pune encouraged Ganesha festival as Lord Ganesha was their family deity (kuldevata). Lokmanya Balgangadhar Tilak, played an instrumental role in propagating the feeling of unity & togetherness through this social gathering. Ganesh festival initially never had the cultural, festive, dynamics involved. It was solely with an objective of getting people together to fight and oppose the British Hegemony. Lokmanya Tilak used print media i.e. his paper ‘kesari’ to bring the citizens of Pune to worship- ‘Ganesha:The God of everybody’. If I look back and see the progression of this social gathering which was then a mass movement to a festival now, I am astonished!
We are a part of this so called ‘modern generation’ who has evolved over the years due to the advancement of science & technology. But in this evolution, have we really evolved? Are we grounded to our roots or we have being deviated by destructions around us?
I am not against celebrating this festival in fact now coming to my second purpose of writing this piece. These 10 days have been extremely positive and contenting for me. I have visited various Ganpati temples, attended aarti`s almost every day at my neighbor`s place, had loads of modaksJ. But, now after the immersion is done and Vighnaharta has showered his blessings on us and I reflect on these 10 days. I am trying to connect few dots, what did we achieve in these 10 days? The one word answer is togetherness- an occasion where we all came together, prayed for peace and well-being and were blessed with a feeling of contentment.
Off late, what do we see around us during this festival? One thing which is evident is; P of destruction i.e. pollution all around. Noise pollution caused by vehicles honking on the roads, & loudspeakers playing some nonsensical songs. Water pollution is at its peak during this season as the idols made of POP (Plaster of Paris) are immersed in water tanks, rivers. Earlier Ganesh idols were crafted of natural clay (shadu mathi) which was replaced by POP as it`s cheaper, easy to mould but it is insoluble in water and is non- biodegradable, but it brings along lot of heavy metals like Helium & Cadmium which is one of factors leading to water pollution. Thanks, to environmental awareness amongst few citizens, POP idols have been substituted by natural clay. This year we witnessed an extremely positive move by the organizers of Ganesh Festival in Pune, as all the Manache Ganpati were immersed in a small water tank. This step encouraged lot of Puneities to immerse their Bappa`s in the nearby water tanks. These are small but crucial steps we all must take for a better and environmental friendly tomorrow. As water – the source of life is used for daily chores, gardening, cleaning- will we face a time, where there will be a need to worship- water God?
Some reflection at our individual level can help us celebrate festivals in true sense where we will be happy to say’ Ganpati Bappa Morya, pudcya varshi lavkar ya’!!