Ganapati Bappa Morya!
Ganesh Chaturthi is just round the corner and this is the time when Mumbai, actually entire Maharashtra celebrates life and happiness with Gannu Baba aka Ganesha. Being a resident of Mumbai, this time of the year, even I become a total Marathi and am busy in some Ganesh Pandal or one would find me pandal hopping in the less famous pandals of Mumbai. But somehow, this year my wanderlust soul managed to take me away from Maharashtra.
|Scenes from Mumbai|
Yes, I was sad I would miss my last Ganesh Utsav pomp and show before my big move (stay tuned to know what it is) and sad not because I wasn’t in Mumbai this weekend but because I thought Ganesh Utsav was only a big deal in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. But Ganesha is kind and well loved by all! I am in Gujarat right now, a place where I spent 10 years of my life and never saw the craze of Ganesh Utsav. The very same state is all set to welcome Ganesha with the same enthusiasm as of Mumbai!
|Ganesha in Gujarat|
I landed in Ahmadabad in the morning and from there I don’t even remember how many Ganesha Artists and stores I have seen till now. And not just statues, decoration centres and Pandals! And not just Ahmadabad, Ganesha kept me company even in a small town called Patan. Talking to people around, I found out that Ganesh Utsav has become a huge deal in Gujarat in the last 10 years. I also found an old lady in Patan who told me “Gujarati badha parva khub mann thi manave” – Gujaratis celebrate every festival with a lot of passion. She gave examples of Rath Yatra and Ghanghor which aren’t Gujarati festivals, but are so famous in Ahmadabad that news channels always cover these festivals here as well. And it is so true – I have seen non ethenic festivals also being celebrated here with full fervor.
|Patan's version of Lalbaugcha Raja|
But one thing that kept bothering me even here, (it has always bothered me during Ganesh Utsav) most statues were made of Plaster of Paris. Festivals do get people close and inculcate a feeling of kindness and togetherness in people but at the same time they have become hazardous to environment. And I was pleasantly surprised in Patan. While I was strolling around the town clicking pictures a shopkeeper told me – “Aamari karigari pan jowo ne” (Do check out our work). Some statues in his shop were just like the other – grand, vibrant and made of POP, but most of the statues were a bit different and not very fine but had the glaze none the less. On asking him about the other statues he said – “Aa amari maati nu che, jem pan che, saras ach lage ne?” – This is made up of our soil. However weird it may look it is still beautiful, right? Just the term maati brought a smile to my face.
|So many Ganeshas!|
Turned out, he and his brother were potters and they had started making Ganesha Idols of clay six years back. He said we do get a few POP idols from Ahmadabad just to make some money but we encourage locals to take our eco-friendly idols by giving them out at comparatively cheaper rates. He also said the most crooked ones are by village kids and women and they sell them or atleast buy them from the makers to help their village.
|Clay Ganesha with Chuna Paint Overcoat|
When I asked him why do they not sell just POP idols since that is where they generate required revenue, he replied – “Ame kumbhar che ne, amne maati no mol khabar che” – We are potters and we know the value of Earth. He said he wished in a couple of years he didn’t have to sell POP statues anymore, ever and I could only smile and feel the change coming.
|The better kind of Statues|
I wish we all realize what he wanted to say and celebrate life and joy with Ganesha in a very eco-friendly way. Festivals are for togetherness, happiness and kindness – let’s try to be kind to Nature too!
|Last minute touch!|