This is one festival that held me in absolute charm ever since childhood. Of Course, Indian festivals have that in them to bring out the child like enthusiasm from everyone celebrating it.
Ganesh Chaturthi however is personally significant to me in many ways. In childhood, the festival was an occasion where all my cousins came to my native town. The morning’s Pooja was usually followed up with a competition of eating the maximum kudumulu (Deep fried modakams that we used to prepare) and in the evenings, we used to tour the Pandals in the locality.
The festival had an added attraction. The ritual pooja needed us to keep our school books in front of Lord Ganesha, praying for his grace through out the year. As the books could not be moved till the next day, nobody could tell us to do dampening things like doing homework or studying 😀 Yes, this was a festival ‘made for the kids!’
The Pooja for those aware, also ends with a Katha, a story of the Syamantaka Mani involving the moon’s curse and adventures of Lord Krishna ending with his wedding to Jambavati and Satyabhama. This story too has an unexplainable charm and it feels unique every time I read! In our evening Pandal tours, we used to remind each other to not look at the moon in order to escape the curse of an ‘undeserved blame’. (Yes there were also moments where we cousins/friends used to trick each other into seeing the moon as well as we grew up!)
Growing up, the ecological concerns around the festival grew. One can blame it on excessive ranting by those who feel the Ganesh pandals block their usual roads. Cannot deny the inconvenience for sure. But a bigger concern was of the water pollution caused when the hundreds of idols of all sizes would be immersed in the local tanks and lakes for the Visarjan. As mud idols made way for the gypsum statues, the concern was huge.
I would like to point out the ritual we follow in my marital home. We do not buy a clay/gypsum statue of Ganesha every year. But my father in law or my husband makes an idol of the deity out of turmeric! You can find below, this year’s idol my husband made this morning! Yes, we used kohl for the eyes, rice grains for the tusks and a custom fashioned Yajnopaveeta 🙂
Visarjan involves in immersing this turmeric idol into a vessel of water which subsequently would be disposed in the garden. I love this method for its sheer eco-friendliness. Those aware of the pooja-vidhana for Ganesh chaturthi would realize that this festival is a lot about conserving nature. The divine elephant headed remover of obstacles himself represents the nature around us. The rituals where worship is offered with 21 different types of leaves, a procedure where only Dhurvayugma (Grass) is used for the worship along with flowers are all a reminder to every worshipper about protecting and conserving nature!
Sermonizing is not something I like to do in my blogs. But I would request every Hindu to ponder over how eco-friendly his or her Ganesh Chaturthi is. We love our Gods and they are not just of the past, but are our past, present and future. The true worship we can offer this delightful son of Parvati, the daughter of Snow mountains and Pashupati, the Lord of all beings, is our deep sense of reverence to mother nature.
Wish you all a very happy Ganesh Chaturthi.
Aum Gam Ganapataye Namah