Its Ganapati time…big beautiful idols, sweets, aartis, bhajans by the Mangeshkar clan…and the noisy fireworks! Who would miss the noise for 10 days…well, I will. I remember times when I was in school or college, and the constant bhajans and voice-overs for the animated idols kept me from being able to study or sleep. I never imagined that I could miss that commotion. But in the lonely foothills of Hollywood, in our sound proof apartments, the lack of that noise makes it difficult to imagine that half way across the globe, people are rolling in bed disturbed with all the noise.
Ganapati season was always good times…there were contest and competitions, shows, orchestra, buffet dinners and get-togethers with people from three buildings, numerous generations and all castes. It was exactly how Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav was planned. And though we hardly talked to the others or shared anything with them, for 10 days we were one big family, cheering each other on in contests and dancing with them when the lorry left with the experienced 10-day old Ganapati idol. There would be homeless people sitting on the water tanks and watching all the proceedings, hand-bombs blowing in the middle of the Puna-dhol and saffron everywhere. There would be processions of communities after communities with their idols. South Indian communities with their more serious looking darker and stouter idols; the normal Maharashtrian ones and the typical Konkani ones with smoother features and more beauty than it is possible to hold in an idol.
I remember the same lonely feeling when I was in Gurgaon and I would go searching for temples where there would be some kind of puja for the special day. All I could find was a dark corner with a Ganapati idol stashed away. Very disappointing. But now, I find myself saying, ‘At the least there were temples there…’
So, today I am going to play all those Marathi bhajans that have been seared into my memory in my lonely house and relive the festivities that partly defined the Mumbaikar in me.