I write so I can breathe. I am constantly evolving, mindless at times, frustrating even perhaps but heck, I wouldn't change the smell of freedom that comes with writing.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Day After

Ganesha, patron of arts and sciences, deity of intellect and wisdom has arrived at our homes, in our street, in our locality and in the city and country. What a versatile God, who sings, dances, writes, chants, plays, fights like a hero, being an obedient son, being a family person. In Mumbai especially, this is a day when irrespective of how much you would have annoyed someone, they come together to celebrate the auspicious occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi. Oh wait, no. We do not come together anymore. We compete, for noise, size, donations, d├ęcor, dances, shows, and item numbers, what have you.

Was it really like this when it all began? Why did people celebrate it in the first place? Lord Ganesha’s department in the bigger scheme of things is to place and remove obstacles, lord of letters and learning, lord of intelligence, wisdom and intellect. (Do not confuse this with knowledge. I think Goddess Saraswati has a position in that.) He holds supports and guides people through life. I have to patiently explain this so as to get a macro perspective on this conveyed to you before I say more.

No Hindu home is without an idol or a picture of Lord Ganesha. No prayers are chanted from ancient scriptures without invoking his name and beseeching blessings from him.

Ganesh Chaturthi was celebrated mostly in homes, quietly in prayer, giving free meals and welcoming one and all. It was Lokmanya Tilak who transformed this festival into a public event. So, what was being celebrated quietly in homes came out into the streets so as to bridge the gaps of resentment that people feel through the year. This was 1893. There was a reason for it. There was a purpose. It was to bring together the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins so that India could be free and the movement unified different castes of people so as to achieve that objective of a free nation.
Now, let me get to my question. Are we doing this right? For the purpose this started for? For bringing together a diverse lot of people so they can all unify and be the change? No. We are so not doing that.

Let me begin…

Here are two pictures of Mumbai’s most revered deities. These pictures were taken by me at different points of time this year in two different locations in Mumbai.

This picture is of a headless Sai Baba. How did I make that out? By the posture we have so deeply embossed in our heads of the special way he sat. So, a headless much-revered Guru, Spiritual Guide, God (whatever the relationship between you and Sai Baba is) is sitting in the receding and approaching waters of the Arabian Sea at Apollo Bunder. I won’t say much…but I think we need to think back about what we are doing. 

This second picture was taken at Carter Road a few days ago. It is a statue of Lord Ganesha. A statue that did not wash away. It was built with a lot of love; it was as solid as they make it. Now, a year later (I am presuming here), the statue is an integral part of the Carter Road embankment. It sits watching a swamp overgrowth, strewn with plastic (that will take more than 500 years to degrade), full of crows and ravens…Don’t even get me started. Does he wonder at the irony of it all?

I had earlier mentioned why this public celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi started in the first place. Now, let us see how effectively we are celebrating it. No, no pictures here…look out of your window, yes, out onto the street and see it live. This is happening now. You don’t need me to feed images for this. You see it around you.

We bring home our most favourite God into our homes and vicinity with a lot of love. Before you step inside with Lord Ganesha, do you pause to look around you, at what needs attention as a human being to another human being and…oh well, all living beings?

The God of Arts and Science, dons a garb painted on him with poisonous chemicals, probably painted by a child who earns his living out of it or maybe not even that. My God of learning, wisdom and intellect arrives and I chant prayers, seeking his blessings to be wise, intelligent and blessed. Quietly staring with hungry eyes is a child that does not even afford an education, is working overtime and perhaps will never get out of his hell-hole. My God of obstacles removes my obstacles by extending his hand of grace through other people who are better off than me. But when it comes to the turn of the lesser accepted people who believe in him and pray to him as well (in their quietude) and my intellect begins to show me how I can do my bit to help my God grant these people their prayers, I choose to turn the other way.

I, a lesser mortal who believes that I can make a difference, spend all of what could be used for betterment, on the size, beauty and grandeur of a Ganesha that will win the competition. Did we really please our God? Did we really open our hearts to welcome goodness of spirit, love, compassion and kindness and be better human beings? Or…

Did we get trapped in the web. Jealousy. Hatred. Competition. Waste. Theft. Cheat. Mean attitude.

Did we indeed? 
- Sandy2012


  1. Beautifully written ,,,am taking the liberty of sharing this with my friends

  2. Thank you Luis.
    Please do share!