Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ganesh utsav - memories and celebrations

One of the most vibrant socio-religious- cultural festival of our country is Ganesh chaturthi. Although this festival is celebrated at the individual family level, it turns into a public (sarvajanik) festival when it is celebrated with the involvement of the locality we live in.

Nostalgia swells everytime i see the  festive Ganesh pandal and the memories come flooding. In Bangalore, where I grew up the festival was celebrated in public parks, on roads, in colonies etc.  During my initial childhood years, I have witnessed one of the oldest utsav’s at Basavangudi National college grounds which is now its 51st year of celebrations. I have blogged about it here. At home, we immersed the  Lord in Lalbagh lake which was a km away from home. My friend used to carry the lord in a open basket while i rang the bell(ghanti) till the lake. 

 Later during my teenage years, when I shifted to Vijayanagar, the 9th main Hosahalli park was the venue. The cross road from the first main leading to the 9th main would be valenced with serial lights, the trees along the avenue along with shops and houses would be decorated with lights  cloaking the atmosphere with festive warmth and glow.   Most residents of our layout would assemble at this park in the evening to witness the cultural programmes. Both the above utsav’s had cultural programmes rendered by famous people.  Politicians, dignitaries and filmstars like kannada actor Dr. Rajkumar, vishnuvardhan, great singers  would grace the occasion. 

Similarly here in Hyderabad, for the past 7 years, I am a resident of a high rise and live in a condominium. We celebrated it in a similar fashion like  the last few years. So popular is the event now that residents who have shifted to various parts of the world write “Miss the event :(” in social sites and on our society forum.

The Ganesh utsav celebrated at our society is marked by a feeling  so intense that it almost resembles a huge joint family. It has the involvement of all families cutting across religion, age and gender. Like every year, this year too the celebration, the camaraderie, the unity, the delegation of work, the participation and help offered to one another made us feel like members of a single family. The whole utsav is a great team work bringing all residents together. This festival is not just about the reverence to the god but it also abounds with community spirit.

Like last  year, this year too we had cultural evenings starting Monday and it ended on Friday. Lots of practice , time and hardwork went into the utsav. Money came in the form of sponsors and donations. The children were helped by their elders in the culturals not necessarily their parents but by their uncles and aunts in the complex. Apart from the various dances, vocal, instrumental recitals, skits etc., The highlight of course was the dance-drama 'Ramayan' consisting of 40 children, it was choreographed by one of our residents. I wish i could post the photos of Ramayan but i would be intruding into the privacy of my fellow residents. Another highlight on a different evening was when my friend painted a Ganesha in flat 4 minutes while her husband played Shankar Mahadevan's ' Ganeshaya Dheemahi' parallely on keyboard. ( i will try to post the Ganesha painting)  There were no celebrity shows. All the shows were put up by our own resident children and their talent was no less than a celebrity's talent. 

The ‘Conundrum ‘quiz  was  another highlight of the edutaining evening. This time it was won by my daughter and her team of 2 friends. Unlike in 2011, when my son won, this year the contest was open not just to teens but to all generations. So, there were 15 teams with ages ranging from 8 to 80. We moms too partipated and  won the second spot. It was a special and emotional moment to see my daughter overtake me in front of a huge crowd. I was reminded of the Bournvita ad’ Taiyyari jeet ki”. Where the son overtakes the mom in a race and the mom prides in losing to her own son and says “the day he(son) defeats me I will win". This is exactly how i have felt often in recent times.  Our children whom we guide, tutor and mentor when young overtake us with their intelligence, strength and even become our teacher in many instances as they grow. There are many little instances where they overtake me and  I take pride of this fact. Only  this time, they overtook us(moms) in front of a huge gathering and I was happy to lose:)

 On the final day, when the ladoo was auctioned like last year( i blogged here) and the Lord was taken for immersion,  emotions ran high. Children  tearfully bid adieu to the scribe of Mahabharat. Unlike last year, children were also taken for the immersion to Hussain sagar. My son who accompanied the elders felt it was like a picnic in the night, they returned early morning at one.  The involvement, the boisterous fun, the community spirit, the love, the camaraderie all made us feel like members of a huge joint family.

The 5 days of festivity made me think joint families are not passe but redefined as today's gated communities and multistoreyed housing societies albeit only during festive days, else who has the time to stand and stare. 

Check out some photos:


A glimpse of the conundrum quiz : ( photo courtesy: a co-resident)

                                  Our ganesha getting immersed by a crane in hussain sagar(tank bund side). The chain of lights you see in the background is the 'necklace road' on the other side of the lake. ( photo clicked by my son from his mobile) 
 That's one of the biggest Ganesha of India the 58 feet Ganesha @ Khairatabad. The laddu he holds in his hand is 4000kg and will be auctioned two days from now( photo courtesy: my son) 


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  2. Interesting idea- that joint families have been replaced by fated communities. To a certain extent this is true - and it has the added advantage of giving some privacy while maintaining the social contact. Those who don't wish, don't mingle - others get the benefit of a community.

    Maybe this is a social trend for the good.

    Nice celebrations.

    1. Thank you, Ramesh:) Yes, these communities i believe are beneficial for people across all ages. Senior citizens who live away from children can rely on the community utilities for help. For children there are lot of learning facilities within the gate. It is a relief for many mid aged people to find children and senior citizens in a safe and secured environment while they are at work.

  3. It is heartwarming to participate in such festivities. Earlier, the celebrations used to be with family and extended families but now it is apartment families. Congratulations to your daughter and her team for winning the quiz and I can sense the feeling of pride that you are experiencing!
    I remember your last year's post about the bidding of the ladoo. I havent read about such a custom on any other blog! Very novel and interesting!

    1. True Shilpa, sometimes we need to step back in our fast paced life and enjoy such festivities. These utsavs I believe serves as emotional cushions.

      Thank you, will pass on your wishes to her:)

      Regarding laddo culture, All along i was thinking it was a north indian culture, while my friends thought it was south indian culture. Only recently we found it was typical hyderabadi culture unique to hyderabad:)

  4. Now you made me home sick. I am glad you all had a great time. Thanks for the nice photos.

    1. Oh sorry about the homesickness:(
      Thank you SG:)

  5. Congratulations to you and your daughter!
    It is always fun to do things together, and see how things fall in place when done with proper co- ordination, and dedication.
    I can understand your pride when you saw your daughter and her team win.
    Here is a link to what I put in FB for Ganesh Chaturthi:

  6. Yes Rama, working together is fun, binds and forges an emotional bond too.
    Glad you empathize.

    Oh, those wheat dough Ganesha are cute and very creative. Loved the photos in the link. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Asha,I have read your posts earlier and commented.I dont know how and why the link was broken.
    Your narrative is very enchanting. It is really thrilling when our children grow up and defeat us. Congrats to your daughter. I will keep in touch.

  8. Yes Ma'am. I can place you. I have blogroled you and will be a regular now on.

    Thank you for those kind words:)