The eco-friendly Ganesha
Festoons of mango leaves, marigolds, colored rangoli, flower, paper decorations and netted golden valence around the gazebo, people in traditional attire, kids prancing around the complex in their ethnic best, our whole housing complex wore a festive look for the past few days due to Ganesh utsav.
The socio-religious- cultural festival of Ganesh utsav is the most awaited in our complex by all, not just hindus but other minorities too. We generally book an eco-friendly Ganesha months before the festival so that it is available at low cost. This statue is lugged to our complex by our own residents( no external labour). The puja is performed daily in the morning and evening for five days followed by a prasad which is generally done by a few residents and a Maha Bhoj (dinner for all) on one of the evenings, outsourced to a caterer.
A variety of educational and cultural programmes are organized in the evening like veena, vocal, veda chanting, bharatnatyam, folk,dance-drama(this year was mahishasura mardan) fusion, skits, extempore,debates, quiz and some special programs exclusively for senior citizens like singing etc. Many entrepreneurial women also set up stalls for chocolates, food, jewels, dress materials etc.,
The cultural events are an audio- visual treat for the residents. It also serves as a platform for the kids to showcase their talent and what a talented kid pool we have!. Not just kids, it also brings out the latent talent of those men and women who never got an opportunity before. The youngest participant was a 6 month old disguised as 'Anna Hazare' for fancy dress competition to an 90 year old senior citizen who participated in the prize distribution ceremony by giving away prizes and gave a speech telling that they felt honored to stay in the community which recognizes senior citizens.
The children of our complex put up a beautiful show daily in the evening helped by the elders( men and women) not necessarily their own parents but by their aunts, uncles and friends in the complex. An aunty teaches contemporary dance, another aunty teaches skits, another one shares her jewels, sarees or applies make up for the dance. My children especially have great exposure and respect towards many indian cultures and have learnt a lot from this Mini- Indian community with their peers which would not have been possible at home or at any school.
An exclusive ramp show for senior citizens and singing contest showcasing their love for their spouses showed how much the couples were in love in their evening of their life. An uncle(65 year old) told he never got an opportunity to express his love to his wife, while he was young when he was staying with his parents and now in old age in front of his grown up son and d-i-l and sang the song ‘ Chaudvin ka chand ho...’. It was so touching.
A feeling of unity and the camaraderie we share,when people meet in person and socialize and get around to make an event like in a festival, which otherwise would'nt be possible with so many busy with their daily work. Many working women and men( including my husband) came early from work to oversee the arrangements. Events like this make me feel we are one huge joint family. As a community, we do have our minor differences but what’s life without some spice.
On the last day, after the prize distribution of the various events, the laddu in the hands of the lord Ganesha was auctioned. The auction started at 2000Rs and ended at 9000. After the final aarti to the Lord Ganesha - the Scribe par excellence, the recorder of Mahabharata went around the complex piloted by fire works. The God of wisdom, was taken for immersion amidst chants of Ganpati Bappa Morya. It was really funny and sad – a mixed feeling to see the children cry and run behind the vehicle not wanting to let go their favorite god.
On a personal note, The highlight of our cultural evening apart from the dance, music and other literary programs is a quiz program which is called ‘Conundrum’. One of the resident guises as a quiz master and makes a complex questionnaire reflected on a projector screen, which throws up a champion team called ‘Conundrum champions of our complex’ every year and the ‘Conundrum champion of 2011’ was won by my son’s team( 3 members) all of them aged 12. They edged out 14 teams, participants from the age of 10-18( Last year sadly, my son lost in the tie breaker round. ( both the teams won the tie-breaker and so they put a toss to find the winner) he sadly lost the toss. He was glad he won this year right under the same Ganesh ji. Whats' more he was glad he edged his own sis with whom his teachers often compare him with in school.
My daughter who generally participates in the dance, skits had to be contented with quiz, carnatic keerthanais and Shankar Mahadevan’s ‘Ganeshaya Deemahi’ due to her pre-boards clashing with the festival.
If festivals were celebrated not just for feasting and fasting, but to focus on happiness, oneness and to bust stress from the mechanized humdrum of our routine, then the essence of this festival is captured every year by us. Every year with this utsav, we feel time stops for 5 days.
The 'Conundrum champions of our complex - 2011'.
My son bending down to check his prize which was a parker pen, while the other team mate is behind him.
P.S: wanted to post pictures of dance and skits but did not want to tresspass into other's privacy without their permission.