Currently all over the country and particularly in Maharashtra, the 2 most talked about things are the Anna Hazare satyagraha against corruption, and the popular Ganesh festival celebrated by people of all faiths, social strata, economic backgrounds, caste,
creed etc. Of course the complete humiliation of the world champion Indian boys in blue is a close third but we won’t talk about it here. Poor guys have already been battered black and blue.

Ganesh Chaturthi is probably the most celebrated of all festivals in Maharashtra which was popularized in a big way by freedom fighter Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak as a show of unity against the British Raj when large gatherings where prohibited. Now after a 100 years and more, the festival is bigger than ever before. The fact that Ganeshji is the most loved and cutest of all Gods also furthers this religious fervour!

My daughter Kiara who is all of 9 decided to ask Ganu to come home when she was hardly 4 and something. At an age when kids are interested in little else but toys, she asked Manasi (my wife) if we could have Ganpati at home. Thinking that this would be a one off, we gladly brought Gannu home. And happily, Gannu was here to stay. This is the 4th year and we’ve had him ever since…

This year Kiara came up with yet another demand. Can we keep him for a few more days? We almost died! I was shooting and Manasi had a few prior commitments. But they say Ganpati Bappa himself decides how long He wants to stay and so we had Him for 3 days. God willing we will reach 10 days in the years to come. All our friends and family came to seek his blessings and that feeling is indescribable.

The one glaring difference between then and now is the use of harsh material like plaster of Paris being used as opposed to the natural earth and clay people used to use then. Most of the idols were immersed in tanks or wells so as to not contaminate the natural water bodies.. But with the increase in size and girth of the idol, Ganesh visarjan now happens mostly in lakes and seas polluting the water as mercury is released from the paints used to colour the plaster of Paris idols. It is totally ruining the environment.

So my humble appeal to all and sundry is to switch to eco-friendly Ganpati idols and do their bit for our environment. If Kiara at 9 years can understand that, why can’t we? And trust me, Ganpatiji will have a big smile on his cute face if you take care of MOTHER EARTH.

Ganpati Bappa Morya!