Ganesh festival is celebrated from 4th day till 14th day of Bhadrapada month (Shukla paksha) as per Hindu calendar. Every year as the Ganesh festival comes nearby, childhood memories related to this festival are refreshed. Here I would like to share some of such memories. I’m sure you will recollect your old times too.
Those were the days when finishing unit tests schedule was followed by 7 days school break for festival. And those memories still delight me. The shops in market were full of decoration materials, curtains, Agarbattis and other pooja materials. Big hoardings would remind about Bappa’s arrival. Sweet shops were loaded with lots of varieties of sweets. Every small street had shops selling Ganesh idols (mostly small statues. Big statues is a recent craze) Beautiful and colorful and varieties of Ganesh idols! As if they are telling me to go and get ready for celebrations. The state transport depots were crowded with people and the buses too were used to be overcrowded and they still managed to carry maximum passengers to their destination. There were fights for the seats bookings, reservations, luggage and window seats and finally reaching home town was a great feeling of having fought a big battle 🙂
A big hug by grandparents, broad smiles of cousins would make us forget all the travel and preparations would begin in full swing to welcome Bappa. House used to be already cleaned by elders. All utensils specially the ones required for pooja used to shine from kitchen cupboards.
All ladies used to manage kitchen while others would look at decorations, seating arrangements for Bappa as well as for guests. We, as kids, were helping hands in bringing small stuffs required for decorations or supplying paper plates full with laddoos, chivada to other house members. While working as helping hand with elder brothers or uncles, we unknowingly learned to have colorful and varieties of ideas for decoration. “Best out of waste” was not a topic of competition but was usual process of decorations at most of the houses. The materials used were always perishable and recyclable. Though we were very small to understand the concept at that time, we now realize the importance. Painting coconut shells, sticking glitters on used plastic bottles, empty cardboard boxes were a different fun and we never were worried about hands getting dirty.
On first day, we all would get up very early and would be ready in clean clothes (not news ones though:)) to do one of the important preparation for pooja. We all cousins would go to backyards and to front side gardens to bring “Durva” and then sort and clean them to form sets of 21. At the same time, we used to bring some fresh vegetables from farm.
Colocasia-leaves (अळू), beans, brinjals and bhindi were farm fresh vegetables that we would bring home and were the part of meal. Is it not a lovely feeling to have farm fresh vegetables straight in your kitchen? The taste of the vegetables was also so delicious that we hardly cried to eat them. Kitchen used to be full of various of fragrances. Modak was the king of all delicacies cooked on the day. We would help our moms to fill sweet stuffing in and to wrap the modaks skillfully, something we learned effortlessly.
Another interesting work was to make Rangolis in front yard, on veranda with guidance from elder sister or aunt. She would make rangolis and we all cousins would fill color to the perfection competing with each other.
Once Bappa arrived, it was a different feeling of having some special guests at home. Shouting loud during Aartis (songs sung as prayers every day, as a part of worship), visiting neighbors to see decorations and eat delicious sweets never made us tired. After Aarti , food was served either on banana leaves or “Patravali” i.e a plate made out of leaves. Trust me, eating meal such way with family was really wonderful part of my childhood. All this fun used to continue for next 5 days and time used to fly literally. 5th day used to be emotional one as it was the day to part from Bappa.
Entire house used to have the reflection of those parting emotions. We all used to say “Ganpati Bappa moraya, poodhachya varshi lavkar yaa” asking Bappa to promise to come back soon for next year. Bappa never broke this promise and he comes every year.
It’s not possible to live those days now, but I try to visit Bappa for a day with my children so they get to see their cousins and more importantly seek Bappa’s blessings.
Visarjan or immersion of Bappa murti were done on the rivers in disciplined manners – no harsh sounds of DJs and no political show off. There were no remains of Bappa on next day on rivers or on sea beaches as all murtis were made of clay and not POP (plaster of paris). Dried flowers also known as “Nirmalya” were buried in backyard pit to produce plants food. Rivers would continue to flow slowly and steadily as before keeping entire climate peaceful and holy. As if their sound would echo all Aartis sung by us in past. After coming back from visarjan, one final round of Aartis were sung and all fruits and sweets were shared with everyone in the family as well as with neighbours as “Prasad”.
All the rituals done by elders during those days had some importance stuck to it either religiously or scientifically. The Ganesh festival we have witnessed was a great example of recycling or reusing of waste and re –connecting with family, hence truly a “Eco-friendly” Festival.