I am always amazed by the spirit of India. No, its not a cliché and it is not a sound bite. It is a feeling from my heart. Despite and in spite the challenges this country has had to face post independence, the religious fervour, the faith and fate drive the country to its ability to rise above and celebrate together like the phoenix. This is what brought me back to live here after a long study and work stint in many beautiful countries abroad. Nothing can beat the color palette that is so attractive to me, literally and metaphorically.
Seems like yesterday that I jumped out of my car, staring agog, at the throngs of crowds singing and dancing in the streets, throwing color and flowers around. It was the most kaleidoscopic festival in Bombay- Ganesh Chaturthi – that falls on the fourth day of the waxing moon around August- the start of the festive season in India. I remember I first became aware of its magic that day when visiting this dramatic city of Bombay.
Colors, firecrackers, gambling, worship, dance. Public celebrations on streets with color powder being thrown- signifying the myriad moods and moments of the local communities and mandalas competing to put up bigger and more colorful statues and more popular pandal’s of the mighty Elephant God Ganapati – son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati – the mother goddess Shakti.
It’s interesting to see the poor and the rich dancing on the streets with their deity, year after year, celebrating with equal fervour. The processions are accompanied with rambunctious dance, fanfare and song, though I am a tad confused as to why Bollywood ‘pop’ over sacred chants! I must admit I was most surprized last night to hear ‘Munni Badnaam‘, a song shot in a Bollywood film depicting a local dance by a moll, at a holy immersion dance.
I jumped out of my car to see throngs of crowds dancing and singing in a fever, following floats of trucks , vans and pick up’s that carried the Mighty Ganesha in his royal regalia to his ‘visarjan‘ or the immersion of the God into the Sea- symbolizing the return of Lord Ganesha from the earth to the heavens.
After satisfying his devotees’ wishes the Lord Ganpati returns to his heavenly abode. Immersing of the clay deity into the sea where he becomes one with the elements is a metaphor for transience of all joys and sorrows, the impermanence of the human form and changing state of the universe. Form to formlessness.
The only constant is the divine power, the energy. The ritual see-off of the Elephant God in his journey towards his abode in Mount Kailash is a big day for Indians when they dress up and celebrate his going home while he take’s away with him the misfortunes of his devotees.
– Nisha JamVwal