“Ganapati Bappa Morya
Purchya Varshi Laukaria”
Translated: Ganapati our Father/Come again to us next year.
This was the slogan repeated by millions of people as they bid adieu to the beloved Elephant headed God, Lord Ganesha. Yes the Visarjan is over because every good thing must come to an end. The largest Ganesha festival of the year 2013 has come to a close with the promise of return next year.
Chaturthis are by their very definition without an end. Technically speaking the period of Ganesha Chaturthi may have ended for this year but the cycles of the moon shall continue. The waxing and the waning would go on, just like life moves on. That is precisely where Ganesha shall continue to be present and accessible to his devotees; In their hearts, in their worships and ultimately in their deeds.
Was Ganesha found in the Rituals?
This is a question many people ask in the months following the Chaturthi. This is the time people expectantly wait for their prayers to be heard. Miracles and prosperity are experienced by some while others fear that something may have gone amiss somewhere in their obeisance to the Remover of Obstacles, Lord Ganesha. The reality though is stark and demands closer introspection. Ganesha cannot be found in rituals, nor does he manifest himself in idols. The heavily insured idols turn to mud once they touch water but Ganesha’s influence over the life of His devotees only strengthens over time, and in the absence of rituals, binds up with every devotee influencing their lives, words and actions.
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The certainty of Return
If the Chaturthi was only a matter of religious and social performance it would have died out centuries ago. Ganesha is a precious part and parcel of his devotees’ lives. People know for sure that he shall return for he never truly leaves. The celebration of Chaturthi allows the private worship to become a public celebration. The personal and the social commingle alongside the religious and secular beliefs that hold and preserve the social fabric.
What does Chaturthi really leave behind?
Prayers hopes and ambitions of millions of people ride on the ample shoulders of Lord Ganesha. The high and mighty as well as the poorest of poor look up to the Chaturthi as an occasion to bring home Ganesha. He is their son. their father and their mentor. He is as much a part of the family as any other living relative connected through blood lines. Ganesha’s relationship with his devotees is timeless and without any border. Time cannot dull his magnificence nor custom tame his vital beauty. Even as his idols find dissolution in water, Ganesha secures a firmer seat in the hearts and minds of his people. It is not surprising therefore to find some people wiping off silent tears from their eyes even as as they cling onto the last sight of the crown of their beloved Ganesha, moments before the waves take it all under.
The physical and emotional roller coaster ride that is Ganesh Chaturthi therefore goes on to exist as a collective cultural heritage, ever ready to inspire generations on end.