Growing up all these years, I always eagerly wait for the months of August-September. Reason? Ganeshutsav celebrations. These 7 days that Bappa visits our home are a total bliss. Every meal enjoyed with my cousins and aunts, late night talks and antakshari sessions and the entire festive atmosphere all around make those 7 days the best days of the year. 7 days I look back to, whenever I’m down or happy or sad. 7 days filled with nothing but laughter, joy, devotion and happiness all around.
Ganesh Utsav is one of the most widely celebrated festivals in India; especially in Maharashtra. You see a Ganesha pandal at every nook and corner in the state. Huge idols made of PoP and decked up in velvet clothing and gold. Devotees throng for hours in queues just for glimpse of the Lord to fulfill their wish. Donations in lacs and crores of rupees and kilos of gold and silver are made to Lord as a “Thank You” for making all the wishes come true. And now this makes me think, have we still lived up to the meaning and motives behind this celebration? Or has it now just become another money making tactic?
Sarvajanik Ganeshutsav celebrations commenced around 125 years ago in 1890’s as an effort by Lokmanya Tilak to bridge the gap between the Brahims and non- Brahims in the colonial rule. Since then the festival has come a long way. The festival in it’s true spirit aimed to inculcate mutual respect and unity among the citizens. The idea behind immersion of idols on the 10th day was to depict the cycle of creation and dissolution. The festival was eco-friendly in every sense, with idols made of mud, which returned back to their original form after the immersion.
But in hopes of making the festival a bit more glamorous, we have already left it’s true spirit miles behind. In a bid to glorify our devotion to the creator, we have build up a roadway to our own destruction. We made idols as big as 8ft to match with our larger than life ego and laid the foundation of our own doom. PoP was cheaper and hence idols of the same sold, and now remains a huge debris of non-biodegradable waste. Sound pollution hits up new highs every year to the beats of the latest bollywood DJ hits and the rhythm of the Dhol Tasha. And let’s not talk about nuisance caused to the thousands living around.
I saw a sight today which deeply saddens me and will probably sadden many others like me.
It’s no hidden secret that thousands of idol remains are pushed out back by the sea once the celebrations are over. And it’s no hidden fact that hammers are used to break up idols in a bid to help them dissolve in the ocean. The same Lord we worship for 10 days is pushed out in the sea on the 11th. This is what happens to the Guest we bring in our homes to worship.
So now you tell me; is it all worth it? The grandeur? the pomp? the money? Are we celebrating his creation or our own destruction?