Thursday, September 08, 2005

Memories of Ganesh Chaturthi

Sunil's post on Ganesh Chaturthi got me inspired into writing this post, which gets my blog into one more of those fits-and-starts routines. Trust me, there will be quite a few of these in the near future!
I attended an aarti at a friend's place last night, and it brought back fond memories of my Bombay days. I think I was singing the aarti in Marathi (Note: Clemson has a huge Marathi mitr-mandali types) after almost eight years! Every year different families had their own small aartis with the main idol being installed in one of the garages. Invariably either Kulkarni Uncle or Padhye Uncle were the ones who would lead the aarti every morning and evening. Believe me, everyone used to attend the night aarti, something which changed later as the dynamics (and possibly family values) changed in Dhanastra. As kids we just loved the prasad - my mouth still waters at the thought of the modaks we used to get. Towards the end of our stint in Dhanastra, I guess there were only the individual poojas, and whoever was keen attended. I for one can easily say I attended every one of the aartis at the Kulkarni's and Padhye's in the 15 years I was there. I've lost touch with both families and so have my parents. Padhye Uncle passed away a few years ago, and believe me to a lot of us (including our parents), it was a bit like the end of an era. I remember everyone talking about the good times we had around Ganesh Chaturthi.
Bombay at Ganesh Chaturthi time is something one must experience once in a lifetime - I enjoyed it 15 times! A few weeks before the festival begins, the newspapers start talking about the latest idols rolling off the 'assembly-lines' - Lalbaug in central Bombay is a huge idol making centre. Some idols are mind-blowing for their sheer beauty or size, while others simply seemed to make fun of trivial issues like current affairs or the latest from Bollywood.
One of the pandals we always visited was the one hosted by the GD Somani school, pretty close to where we used to stay. I think pretty much every family in Colaba/Cuffe Parade visited the pandal just to admire the idol. It was probably one of the tallest ones in South Bombay atleast. This was one of the few times GD Somani was treated with some sanctity/respect - other wise we were always shouting "GD Somani....gutter ka paani" when we passed that way (yeah I know it sounds kiddish, but when you're 8 or 9 you dont give too much of a damn!).
The immersions were grand affairs, an unforgettable mix of drum beats and delirious dancing. As a kid it intrigued me how my heart(beat) seemed to go into overdrive to the sound of the drums. People throwing gulal in the air, trucks streaming past with the huge idols, some on carts, some on cycles - all in all a fairly motley mix.
All this to the echoes of "Ganpati bappa moraya...pudchya varshi laukar yea"!


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