It’s my favourite time in Mumbai: Ganpati, or Ganesha, is visiting! I wrote about this festival before, describing what the experience when Ganpati arrives in Mumbai. Clearly, I love this time of year.
For the next 10 days, Maharashtrians everywhere have this special house guest and they lovingly tend to him. They wake him up with a devotion-filled puja and aarti every morning, bells chiming and fervent voices ringing out in worship of him. Piles of steamed modaks, jaggery and coconut filled momos, are offered, they’re his favourite snack. Marigold flowers, in brilliant orange, yellow and white, cuddle around the jovial god. An oil-filled lamp burns brightly.
Ganpati is one of my favourite gods. He’s incredibly intelligent, which is why he was picked by Rishi Valmiki to transcribe the ultra-long epic, the Ramayana, as he recited it at breakneck speed orally. He’s a lateral thinker – when he and his brother were challenged on who could cover the universe the fastest, he chilled out until the last minute and then circumambulated his parents, who, for him, were his universe. He’s principled. When his mum told him to guard the house and let no one in while she bathed, he didn’t relent even to let in his father, losing his life in the bargain (that’s how he ended up getting the elephant head, when he was resuscitated). And he’s so comfortable with himself. He looks different from everyone else, has a totally different way of looking at the world, and he has fun with it. He does his thing.
Ganpati is my kind of god. He’s in town for the next 10 days. I’m happy.