Having recently returned home after some years, I was able to renew the tradition of the Ganpati festival that is celebrated with great zest and fervour in Pune. In particular I missed having the company of my wife and seven-year-old daughter who would have enjoyed the occasion immensely.
And it brought back memories of the Ganpati festivals in the past – for two years we enjoyed it the most while staying in a co-operative housing society in the western suburbs of Mumbai.
Mumbai is regarded to be the most metropolitan city in India and is well-known for its fast paced lifestyle. People are always on the move and very much engrossed with their own lives. Indeed neighbours don’t quite socialize that much and a new-comer can feel quite lonesome to begin with.
I had just moved with my family to Mumbai on a promotion and was fairly preoccupied with my corporate life. My daughter was about 2.5 years old and my wife was busy attending to her needs. Her routine was focussed much at home and the weekends would flash away as well. I had a travelling job and even otherwise working at home did happen on the weekends as well. My wife’s cousins were staying in central Mumbai and we met them once in a while when our schedules could match up. My wife didn’t know the local language though she was fluent in Hindi and Gujarati.All the same she didn’t have many friends in our society.
It was all set to change with the arrival of the Ganpati festival. My wife loved to dance and was very creative in making rangolis and art decorations. She chanced on an acquaintance who wanted help to set up the Ganpati pandal in the society. From then on there was no looking back – my wife got pulled into the organizing committee and they enjoyed the event.
The festival runs for 10 days and the preparations started much in advance. It created great excitement among the kids and even my li’l daughter caught the fever. She would toddle her own dance steps along with the older kids. Aarti was a regular feature – on every day of the festival there were different social events and competitions for the society members. Song and dance would happen at a drop of a hat. Towards the end, we had pravachans and community dinners as well.
My participation was quite limited but I was surprised to note my wife’s enthusiasm for the event. She had heard about the festival but never quite experienced it first hand. It kept her occupied and she made many new friends as well. When I look back possibly that was the icebreaker my wife needed to get going in the social life in the community.
Suddenly I would get acknowledged by many folks while moving about the society – I became known as the ‘husband of X’, quite a novel feeling. I also realized that we make our own choices in life – true Mumbaikars tend to be reserved but it is possible to take the first step yourself to change the situation. It might not work all the time but it is an effort worth making. So whenever you are in a new place and among new people; don’t fret and just give it a shot. You are likely to discover new friends and interests that add spice to our routine life.
I reminisced about the old days as I made my way across Pune observing the festivities. Lord Ganesha’s festival is just concluding now and it can usher in a new beginning in one’s life as the Vignaharta (Lord who removes obstacles) blesses his devotees with good luck and fortune.