Well, the 10-day frolic and frenzy of the much, no, desperately awaited Ganesh Festival has almost come to a fitting finale. It is finally time to say good bye to the lord with a crooked trunk and an adorable pot belly. Oh and it is ciao to lip smacking modaks too, unfortunately. Yes, good byes are always difficult and saddening but they hold a promise and hope that whoever you are bidding adieu to, will be back sometime. With our Ganpati bappa too, it is the same thing. He gives us a booster dose of hope, faith, love, reasoning and most importantly of being together, as a community, being united, till the next times he arrives. Like what legendary Bal Gangadhar Tilak had envisaged Ganeshotsav to be, a platform where people would come together and discuss teething issues faced by the society and country at large. Subsequently try and find solutions and work towards the betterment of the society and ultimately the country as a whole. There were skits, plays and random cultural performances contributing a lot to social awareness when Ganesh festival was initiated. That was how the people even from the grassroots could understand what is happening around them and what could be its implication on them.
Somehow, though over a period of time and changing sensibilities as well as mentalities, I can’t help but feel that the real purpose for which Bal Gangadhar Tilak initiated the festival has been sidelined. Today, it is more of dance, drama, ganpati pandals at every corner (unnecessarily so I feel) and dhol. Although I agree and I want to clarify that being an Indian and a Maharashtrian, I love dhol tasha and all. However, at the same time, there is too much of all this pomp and show, rather than looking at the immense potential Bappa’s arrival has for making the most ordinary people aware of what is happening around them – be it scams, health issues, rocket launches by India or be it border or water disputes. Ganesh festival is a fabulous vehicle for social awareness and enlightenment. Sorrowfully enough, this potential has long been forgotten. All the deity gets to listen and see is either Chikni Chameli or Munni Badnaam at maximum possible volume with people dancing like there is no tomorrow, with no respite and no change. All this, instead of discussions and work which can lead to a better us, a better India. I sometimes feel, no wonder he packs his bags in a mere 10 days. He must be saying – thank god it is just 10 days of listening to deafening music and not so praiseworthy dancing!
PS – We love you Lord Ganesha, come soon!