|English: Bal Gangadhar Tilak (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
With Purshottam’s month finally over, the entire city is getting ready to celebrate the festival of Ganesha. With the rains miraculously gone, the past week has seen aT a flurry of activity as makeshift marquees or pandals were being erected in several street corners to welcome the various Darlings or Raja of the locality; Lalbaug cha Raja being the most famous of them all.
Originally held in private homes, the celebrations were made into public, communal celebrations by Lokmanya Tilak, the pioneering freedom fighter who used this opportunity to rouse public sentiment and foster a sense of “Indiannness”. Tilak, the wily Brahmin found this a clever way to overcome the restriction on public gatherings imposed during British Rule. Over the years, the marquees have got bigger as have the idols of clay and the tableaux which have become larger and more varied encompassing themes varying from cultural to political to outright crassness.
This morning I went to the place where it all began 120 years ago:
Keshavji Naik Chawl off NA Deshmukh Road, a gully deep in Khadilkar Lane, in the heart of Girgaon. While there was activity all around this narrow street the Chawl itself wore a look of casual abandonment save for the banner announcing its proud heritage. I went inside hoping to find preparations underway but was disappointed to find it forlorn and empty. A few boys loitering around on the motorbikes parked around assured me that come tomorrow, the entire chawl would become a hive buzzing with life as 150 families got together to welcome Lord Ganesh in their midst. In fact they invited me to join in their celebrations tomorrow and promised me that I wouldn’t be sorry.
I continued with my walk down the neighbourhood, taking photos of all the banners that announced the various Ganeshas. From tomorrow morning this place will become one cacophonous mess with people scurrying around, chants of prayers, sounds of bells and the usual noise of the Mumbai traffic.
Opposite the two pink cows standing guard at Gaiwadi I found a real cow being fed real grass by real people. Many devotees like to feed the cow so this is a common sight outside a city temple.
On my way home I bought two fat coconuts which I am going to scrape down and get ready to ask my mother-in-law to make the steamed dumplings that she is most famous for. I also bought some flowers to decorate my little Ganesha who will this time miss the activity associated with his welcome in my home all these years. In fact, I wanted to stop bringing him out but vehement protests by Hubby Dear and Anna Shetty made me change my mind.
Tomorrow morning, before the day begins, I will lay out my decorations and install my Ganesha for the Pooja which Anna Shetty has promised to attend.
|The Brahman Sabha pandal
which organises cooking and
And as we say our prayers we shall remember all those away and eat an extra modak doused in hot molten toop especially for them.
|The pandal at Girgaon Cross Road|
Ganpati Bappa Morya!
|Real cow opposite fake cows at Gaiwadi|