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Ganpati Bappa@Lamington Road

This is Aditya Chaturvedi reporting on the Ganesh Chaturthi festivities, popularly called the Ganpati festival,Live, from Mumbai. Its incredible the way this megapolis, India's commercial capital, just shrugs off its collective state of eternal busy-ness and erupts into a celebration of devotion with a passion and fervor that unmatched in its size, scope or sheer grandeur.

I am in Mumbai for my teeny weeny term break from Life@Kunnamangalam, okay okay IIMK, and since optical media, he he, I mean CDRs and CDRWs, are cheaper here I decided to run down to Lamington Road and grab a pack or two. So I got into the famous and yet ubiquitous Mumbai Local and got down at Grant Road. A ten minute walk from this station will normally get you to Lamington Road. But the operative word is, well normally.

What I had completely forgotten, probably excusable since I was in Kunna.. err IIMK otherwise its a proper sacrilege to forget it if you are a resident of Mumbai, was that this was the D-Day, or G-Day to be precise, the day on which Ganpati idols from all over Mumbai will be immersed in Water Bodies all over the city. Be it the Arabian Sea, the Powai Lake, the Thane creek, they will be all over Mumbai.

So, there I was, standing somewhere close to Lamington Road, with crisp new notes from the HDFC Bank ATM (bless them!, they always seem to have an ATM at the right place) ready to buy the CDs, when I realised that the market is most likely to be closed.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I must tell that the reason why this immense wisdom dawned upon me was the endless streams of people dancing, singing, shouting, jumping about, totally oblivious to their state. All the roads were cordoned off and vehicular traffic was severely restricted. I was just strolling along the road, soaking in the atmosphere, trying to figure out the rationality of it all when the first float with a huge idol of Ganpati bappa came into view.

After that it was veritable deluge.Float after float of Ganpatis of various hues kept coming, devotees in pure delirium and the cacophony, well it must be seen and heard, I cannot describe it, period. While the brain will keep trying to find the reasons for such an exercise, an obvious wastage of money, time and other resources, more than half the Indians live below the poverty line, India has the maximum number of holidays in the world, the water bodies in Mumbai are getting polluted severely and so on, I just could not help myself just feeling the sheer energy in the atmosphere.

Despite this cacophonous energy, I felt at peace, calm, secure in the knowledge that Lord Ganesha is there to take care of us, fulfill all our wishes and give us more than we can ever deserve. It cannot be a waste. It looks irrational because we are looking for rationality in all the wrong places.

What such an event manages to achieve is something that cannot be imagined by any process that the society can conjure. People from all walks of life, all strata of the society, all communities, contribute and partake in this annual rite of sharing, bonding and most importantly, believing. Groups of muslims were seen offering water and sweetmeats to devotees on their way to the sea. Members of other communities were likewise engaged in helping and sharing.

There is absolutely no sense of hierarchy or rank among the devotees. The most expensive and beautiful idol will land up rite next to the smallest and most humble one. A true indicator of the finality of death and futility of racing behind miasmas of wealth, power and more. It was a sight that is as moving as it was the last year and the years before.

I am overwhelmed.

Ganpati Bappa.. morya !
Mangalmurti ... morya !
Purcha varshi.. laukarya !!!

P.S. I did get the CDs at a really small shop tucked in a bylane of Lamington Road, the owner of which was totally engrossed in the proceedings on the road outside and couldn't have cared less if I bought anything or not. At that point of time, I was just disturbing him.

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