Today it is 10 days since we welcomed the elephant headed God Lord Ganesh into our homes. The tradition of a community Ganesh celebration began 125 years ago when Bal Gangadhar Tilak began this practice to enable people to get together and spread the message of freedom from colonial rule.
Today Keshavji Naik Chawl where the Community Ganpati was first celebrated still keeps a low key celebration . This year though, the crowd went crazy with the visit of Sachin Tendulkar the Master Blaster who remains a Mumbaikar despite his International celebrity.
My own Ganpati celebration is a quiet, family affair where we bring out our idol from the cupboard and install him in pride of place. We worship him for a day and a half with aarti sung in faith and fervour and modak eaten with even greater passion. Then we immerse him in a bucket of water to diffuse the energy that is awakened in the idol by the worship and then keep him away till the next year.
The sadness of saying goodbye
Even though we know He is coming back next year, there is a tinge of sadness in the air as Lord Ganesh goes back to his Kingdom.
Today the bigger idols are going to be immersed amidst song, dance and a lot of noise. Soon after lunch the smaller idols that are largely family owned will make their way to the sea and by tea time the bigger ones start their parade down the streets of Mumbai.
The largest one known as Lalbaug cha Raja steps into the water only in the early hours of tomorrow morning ! Millions of people visit this Ganpati, often spending hours in the queue with some devotees coming from out of town for His blessings.
This year despite the heavy downpour ( which meant that 2 days were a washout) there were over 5,14,00,000 devotees who have visited him.
So today to wish Him goodbye and to make the parting more sweet, I ordered myself a special icecream made only for these 10 days from Havmor , the icecream maker from Ahmedabad.
This divine concoction is truly worth waiting for the whole year. It is actually a coconut icecream with saffron and pistachio slivers encased in a white chocolate cover and served on a bed of whipped fresh cream with more pistachio and coconut shavings.
Now isn’t that a sweet way to wish a beloved God goodbye?
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