My excitement and general mood of celebration during the recent Ganesh Festival was spoiled by the acts of violence and insolence during the immersion procession in Pune and other parts of the state. By now everybody has had their take on this topic and what I am going to say here might not be very different, but nonetheless I will write.
Ganesh festival has undergone a lot of changes over the years. What started out as a sincere effort to bring people together and boost the spirit of community, has now turned into an ostentatious display of money and lack of culture. (I am well aware that exceptions exist and I do appreciate the good work that they do via the medium of this festival.)
I feel that the ban on loudspeakers after was a very good decision taken by the court. I was disturbed when I heard many people debate against this decision. People, have we forgotten to enjoy in moderation? Do we need to go to extremities to truly enjoy an event or a festival?
Most Indian cities are excellent examples of vehicular (air) and water pollution. Do we need the noise pollution and water pollution that comes with the way we are currently celebrating this festival? Can we stop making religion and rituals an issue and instead focus on the values that are at the core of these? Have we become so self-centered that we continue to celebrate even when our own countrymen are falling prey to natural disasters, injustice, poverty, lack of resources? Celebration is an inherent part of our culture; can we find ways to include all in this gala?
We celebrate to seek Ganesha’s blessings, but THINK, would He be pleased by what He sees? It is time, each of us pondered over this.
Considering the original thought behind the festival, how about
- Not extorting money from people as “vargani” (donation).
- Not squandering the donations over flashy immersion processions and other extravaganza.
- Not playing blaring music especially irrelevant songs from movies during the festival.
- Not immersing the big idols and thus help curb water pollution. The same idol could be used during the next festival. The money thus saved could be used for some worthy social cause. (We immerse our family idol in a tub at home. We buy a shadu (clay) idol and on immersion the remnants are spread among the flower beds in the garden.)
- Encouraging the revival of some cultural arts or even better arranging programs or competitions that will help the youth in some way (sports events, public speaking, vocational guidance, etc)
- Imbibing the importance of community service by conducting some programs aligned in this direction.
- Continue improving social awareness on various issues via “pandal”displays.
- Limiting a “pandal” per locality. This will prevent traffic congestion from happening at every nook and corner during the festival.
Ganapati Bappa Morya!!