Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Ganesh in the home by the road

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I closed the door behind me and set out. I often find myself on these walks. No cell phone, no wallet. No destination. Just intentions of heading somewhere, and to W-A-L-K along the way. 

I'm always amazed at what emerges through the chaos and hustle that a city offers when we take of our blinkers. So that day, when I found myself struggling to see the beauty around me at home, I set out. I cross the road, and enter the lane just across the road. As I walked, I tried to see all that is around me - the cobbler, the old kakas sitting around the banyan tree.

Just there, I see a beautifully crafted Ganpati - not more than 1 foot in height. But it wasn't seated in a pandal. It was by the road, open for everyone to visit. It was seated in someones living Room. They had drawn back the curtains and windows, opened out all the doors, cleaned the floors, repainted the walls - and offered this Ganpati to everyone who passed by. 

Few people can say that they have bumped into me at a temple or a place of worship, but that day, I just had to step into that home. All year long, this would be the personal space of a family getting together over dinner, but for these 10 days, it was a community space. Open to anyone to come in, confess their shortcomings, or perhaps offer their gratitude. 

I bow my head in a customary fashion, and the lady (presumably of the house) walks out immediately and offers me ‘prasad’. We are often used to this in a religious context, but something about this experience made me think differently.

What a beautiful way to open out your heart to community. And all of this without the support of any external agencies or donors. This home could easily be classified as ‘under privileged’ and could be using the money in so many different ways.

When the festival would have been initiated by Bal Gangadhar Tilak in the 1800s you can imagine he would have had exactly this intention in mind – “for people of the community, to come together and contribute their time and money and create magic together, irrespective of caste and economic strata”. Not only that, its probably the only festival i've come across where the end is celebrated! It is reminding us that every Sarjan, has a Visarjan, every birth a death.

It had me thinking immediately – what do the modern day community gatherings look like? 

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