Wednesday, September 08, 2010
I love being an Indian in India during the Festival period-----the very Air around one tingles with loads of Piety,Happiness and an indefinable something which is essentially Indian---an ambience which is replete with Vibrant Enthusiasm, Fragrance,Festivity and Joie De Vivre---a Love of Life and Living!!!
The Elephant God or Ganesha/Ganapati as He is called------is worshipped ceremoniously in almost every home across Maharshtra---the period of His stay ranging from 36 hours to 10 days---and He bids "Adieu" to us after 10 days---leaving us sad to see Him go!!!During this period only "pure "Vegetarian Fare--minus Onion and Garlic is served for the entire period of His stay---36 hours,60 hours,5 days,7 days or maximum 10 days ---each household hosts His stay according to it's individual Tradition.Some observe strict rituals during the period of His stay---worshipping Him and presenting Him daily with Traditionally pre-set Menus---of which the most beloved is the "Modakas" or dumplings made from Rice Flour or All Purpose Flour and stuffed with a sweet Coconut-Jaggery filling.The Rice Flour ones are steamed and in the case of the All Purpose Flour ones---deep fried.These Ganpatis are called "Pujechey" Ganpati---and the mood is pious, solemn and full of Reverence.Others like us host Him for 7-10 days without the Rituals---these Ganpatis are called "Mulaanchey or Khelaatley" Ganpati and are brought home just to bless the premises.
The Community ones are hosted by the Ganapati Mandals or Clubs.These are huge in both sizes as well as in arrangements.Many of these are famous---for instance the" Lal Baugcha Raja" or King of Lal Baug in central Mumbai----He has an enormous following and people stand in line for more than 24 hours at a stretch just to pay obeisance to Him!!!Then there is the GSB Mandal's Ganpati at Wadala ,a suburb in eastern Mumbai----here too people queue up and wait for hours to pay obeisance--- there are many,many more---but these two are the richest----garnering Crores(Millions) of Rupees in Jewellery and hard Cash each year!!!In fact they gather so much Money that the Coins are sifted through huge Sieves according to sizes!!!There are Entertainment Programs too arranged as a part of these Mandal activities.A lot of Regional and Bollywood Actors have used this Stage as a Platform or Stepping Stone to Fame and Recognition!!
Like all our other Festivals,this Festival too has it's lighter moments.In Goan and Konkani homes along the coastal belt of Western India, many people abstain totally from Eggs,Poultry,Fish and Meat for the entire month of Shravan preceding this Festival and for as long as He stays in their homes. They cook and eat Non-Vegetarian Food only after He exits according to His schedule from their home.These folks are avid Fish lovers and are literally dying to taste Fish again----specially the Fresh Mackerel---the Season for which starts around the time for Ganpati.Most often in such homes,the Ganpati Idol exits ceremoniously through the Front door---and the Mackerel rushes in through the "Paras Daar" or Backyard door!!!The next day is celebrated with a hearty Feast with the Mackerel being the Star attraction!!!
There are "Maharashtra Mandals" or Clubs of Maharashtrian people who live away from Maharashtra--both in India and abroad----and these arrange for Traditional Festivities for each Festival---by collecting Monetary Contributions from it's members.This way our children too learn about our Culture and Traditions---these help in keeping a connection--a bond with our Roots alive!!!