We humans have a habit to see only what we want to see; we comfortably overlook the unpleasant truths. We have done the same for the magnanimous festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, which has resulted in repercussions of magnanimous scale. So I am writing what most of us already know, but choose to ignore.
Beliefs, truths & filling the gaps in Ganesh Chaturthi:
1. The Belief: “Ganpati has come to our home for 10 days!”
The Truth: You have bought a Plaster of Paris idol painted with toxic chemicals to your home.
Filling the Gap: Get together with the family, make an idol at home using eco-friendly shaadu clay; painting it is not necessary since the idol looks great as it is, else you can use water colours. Great for family bonding & environment also.
2. The Belief: “Let’s shower him with the choicest sweets!”
The Truth: You have fallen prey to consumerism by standing in a long line for buying sweets from Haldiram’s. Finally, YOU only are going to eat sweets, loaded with sugar, for the next 10 days.
Filling the Gap: Home-made modaks, halwa/sheera, dry fruits are enough. God isn’t asking for quantity, he just wants your genuine devotion.
3. The Belief: “Let’s decorate his mandir as beautifully as we can!”
The Truth: With the ready-made thermocol decoration & electric samais, you have again fallen prey to consumerism & also under-utilized your creativity.
Filling the Gap: Use potted plants, zari sarees, wooden paats, oil samais, clay shapes to decorate. All are reusable. Let your creative juices flow, that’s going to please the Lord more.
4. The Belief: “Let’s call 100-200 of our family & acquaintances for Maha-Prasad!”
The Truth: You have wasted your time & money in unnecessary social formalities, which is going to result in nothing.
Filling the Gap: Feed some poor families. Or simply sponsor a meal or two at a nearby ashram/langar & supervise the whole thing. *Remember daan-dharm.*
5. The Belief: “The neighbouring mandal has sent kids seeking donation for the public Ganpati. Let’s donate 1001/-.”
The Truth: You don’t know where exactly your money will be used. For that matter, it might be getting used to pay the DJ, who would play Chikni Chameli or Munni Badnaam at the mandap.
Filling the Gap: Refuse (if you can) to donate money. Instead volunteer & organize competitions to encourage creativity & awareness. *Wasn’t public scale Ganpati started for that?*
6. The Belief: “This politician/businessman has sponsored the Ganpati. How philanthropic/devotional he is!”
The Truth: He is availing tax benefits. The politician might be using the public fund, out of which certain % goes in his own pockets.
Filling the Gap: Think logically not emotionally.
7. The Belief: “Let’s do our idol visarjan in lake/ocean. Nirmalya has to be offered in the water body.”
The Truth: You have just contributed to environmental pollution. Read this: http://e-coexist.com/products/ganesh-chaturthi/the-environmental-impact-of-ganesh-chaturthi
Filling the Gap: Co-operate with government authorities or NGOs who are coming forward for eco-friendly visarjan. God is going to bless you for saving his flora-fauna in your own small way.
8. The Belief: “Oh what a beautiful Visarjan procession! Bhakts dancing with devotion!”
Men high on gaanja, alcohol.
Women, children holding heavy display light works connected to the generator trailing the idol – unfair & dangerous.
Women might be at a risk of being groped by groups of men.
Horses, elephants being used for themed processions – appalling & barbaric considering the powerful dhol-tashas being played in unison.
Filling the Gap: Simple & disciplined procession being monitored by responsible volunteers. Procession moves swiftly to avoid traffic jams.
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Pudhchya varshi lavkar ya! Looking forward to a more responsible Ganesh Chaturthi next year!