Tag: lord ganesha

The Right Way to Celebrate Ganeshotsav

This is a short article where I jot down some points that will show what (I think) the right way to celebrate Ganshotsav is. I have a special regard for the elephant god as you can read and find in one of my most popular articles on this website. So, you can rest assured that this is a practical article that does not resort to mockery.

A huge Ganesha idol being taken to a pandal in Navi Mumbai
An example of a procession taking a Ganesha idol to its pandal

Changing some of our ways as we celebrate the festival can go a long way in ensuring that we will be able to do it for more years, similar to how responding positively to the ongoing Save Aarey campaign will do. Here you go:

  • Avoid processions – This is perhaps the biggest issue emanating out of the festival. The concept of bringing in the Ganesha idol (aagman) and saying goodbye to it (visarjan) with fanfare should be minimized either by avoiding them altogether or doing it when the roads are emptier in the night. It should be mandated that all such processions should be carried out post 10 pm to aid in easy movement of both the traffic and the procession. Clogged roads lead to traffic snarls which in turn lead to chaos and even death in some cases due to stampede. It might be assuring to know that in 2015 the Bombay High Court had directed the BMC to restrict the burgeoning of pandals (a term used to describe interchangeably the setup that holds the lord’s idol or the association attached to it) and give permission to only those that have enjoyed a legacy or a long-term existence such as the Lallbaug Raja or the GSB Seva Mandal.[1]BMC approves over 2k Ganpati pandal requests – Richa Pinto, The Times of India, 27 August 2019
  • Avoid firecrackers – There is no reason to let the whole world know that you are celebrating the festival by firing crackers. Lord Ganesha can sense all the love you have for him through your sheer willingness to celebrate the festival. Stop using firecrackers and prevent pollution of the atmosphere
  • Avoid loudspeakers – Vocal chanting (aarti) is one of the key processes to show love and worship to the deity but doing it on loudspeakers just adds to the noise pollution accentuated by the firecrackers (above point) and the music bands (below point), also incorrectly known as banjo groups. Let the pandit chant without the mic and you can follow his lead. No need to make the surrounding people know that you are doing an aarti. The lord has big enough ears to get the point
  • Avoid music bands – I know this is a source of income for some youth but it needs to stop for the greater good. More than the loudspeakers, it is the noise from these percussion-heavy banjo groups that makes existing during Ganshotsav a near impossibility. Add to that the use of amplifiers to blast Bollywood and pop songs in other languages such as Bhojpuri, Punjabi, and Marathi. I’m sure the lord does not think highly of this, let alone the Nashik dhol (Nashik beat) in repeat. The youth can adopt what they do the rest of the year and say goodbye to this noise-polluting practice. Visarjans can also be a silent affair without the use of these percussion instruments. And if you see the need for it, you can chant it using your vocal chords
  • Avoid floral wastage – This is as huge as we think it is small. Floral wastage during the celebrations is so high (and which contributes to poor sewage in and around the city) that in 2019 BMC tied up with NGOs to collect them and convert to manure. That’s a good step but extra work, which can be altogether avoided if you start avoiding use of extra flowers when the need is only for a few
  • Avoid PoP idols – This has been debated for long but has reached no consensus. It is common sense to avoid Plaster of Paris (PoP) idols (because of their non-biodegradable quality) and instead use eco-friendly ones made of clay (which are) but due to lower costs, better strength, and better designs, manufacturers still dole out Ganesha idols made of PoP. The change needs to start with the consumers here
  • Avoid visarjan in water bodies – This is the last point because it is the only one where I have seen some headway happening. Many pandals and homes in and around Navi Mumbai have shifted to artificial visarjan where they immerse the Ganesha idol in a makeshift pond on a terrace or a housing society backyard. This practice does not pollute the water bodies. The plus point is that this practice also avoids the procession as everything happens within the confines of the housing society or the house (in case of private pandals). Examples of this practice are one, a private housing society of Everest Nagar in Ghansoli, and two, a private one organized by Sushobita Nair and her family in Sector 6, Vashi.

I know it is almost the end of Ganesh Chaturthi 2019 but let this be an essential read for the coming years. From a theological perspective, this may not exactly be the right way to celebrate the festival of Ganesha but in this 21st century where we are riddled with environmental issues it is pragmatic to tweak our ways.

If even one of these points is executed by anyone who is involved in celebrating Ganshotsav I think we can make progress. As someone who tries to practice what he preaches, I will try to do the same starting 2020. TN.

Featured image courtesy: Preshit/Creative Commons

footnotes   [ + ]

1. BMC approves over 2k Ganpati pandal requests – Richa Pinto, The Times of India, 27 August 2019

Why Unmarried Couples Don’t Visit Siddhivinayak Temple?

siddhivinayak temple shrine dome mumbai

It’s an urban myth with at least five variations.

The Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Mandir located in Prabhadevi, Mumbai is visited by thousands of devotees every day and is also one of the most popular temples in the city. However, there is an insane practice that is highly regarded by many (particularly by superstitious Mumbaikars) which says that couples (man-woman, of course) who are not married yet should avoid going to the temple on several absurd grounds (stated below), failing which they risk their chance of getting married to each other. 

I don’t know the origin of this belief but every other person I talk to about this practice are familiar with it.

Following are some of the rule’s variations as deduced out of different conversations with different people in different places in and around Mumbai:

That unmarried couples or engaged-but-unmarried couples or two lovers or live-in partners should not visit the Siddhivinayak Temple…

…on account of being in an impure relationship which has not yet been sanitized by the flaming bond of marriage, generating a mass of impurity, causing a gradual chaos in the relationship, ultimately causing a horrid split between the involved parties.

…because one of them does not have genuine feelings of love for the other and is only looking for lust (sex) which is tabooed in India so you get the idea.

…owing to the fact that they be spotted by one of their relatives which will anyway cause an instant split between the parties. Why take a risk?

…because love and marriage don’t go together. If you are in love, you cannot be married and if you are married you cannot possibly be in love. Visiting a temple will be the least of your worries.

…because if you are true Indian lovers you would opt for the traditional arranged marriage setup and this whole thing would be a waste of time since you would have all the time and the freedom in the world to visit the temple since you are, didn’t you realize, already married to the person of your parents’ shared dreams, using the purest form at that.

There you have it – the highly illogical variations of a myth – an urban legend that is considered by many devotees of the shrine that is frequented by celebrities during the auspicious festival of Ganesh Chaturthi.

siddhivinayak temple shrine dome mumbai
The outer facade of the popular Lord Ganesha temple in Mumbai / © Commons

On a serious note, to answer the question “Should unmarried couples visit Siddhivinayak Temple?” I would ask why not? If you are a theist and believe in the power of praying and personally love the elephant god and want to take your partner to the temple to experience the tranquility of the place, you should not pay attention to this urban tale that is filled with canons of superstition. Only a fool will see it as a fact and follow it and wait till their marriage to visit the temple which is one of the coolest places to be in Mumbai. Go and do a little praying, for god’s sake. TN.

Disclaimer: This article is a work of satire and hurting any religious sentiments is not my intention. If you somehow were still hurt, feel free to contact me and I will do something about it.


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