As we reach another Ganpati festival, I increasingly think what a wonderful festival this is. Millions of people actually bring God into their house. Physically bring God home and install him in a place of honour, as they would a guest. And for the next few days, the number of days depending on how long they can afford the hospitality, they
feed him and sing bhajans to him and introduce him to their neighbours and friends and even show him off a little. Hindu religion has always been personal and so near to the heart. No other religion has this friendly and informal relationship with its God.
Also, the manner in which it physically creates its God, in different sizes, shapes, and in various actions, driving a jeep, doing battle in the Himalayas, sitting in front of a computer, using a mobile phone. Christianity says that God created man in his own form. Here man is creating God in his form. I like the general bustle around the time of Ganpati. The celebrations are both by individual families and by the entire community combined. All houses have their own Ganpati and there is a central Ganpati put up in the locality for everybody to share and worship. Sometimes a temple, a castle, a whole city is created around the Ganpati and people from other areas come to see and admire it. This is certainly the best festival in India, and it is my favourite. Divali is too noisy and getting noisier every year, as people have more money to burn.
And Holi is quite messy, and I have always thought a little undignified. Raksha Bandhan is a little better, the concept of brother and sister quite touching and it is one way of keeping the family together. And Navratri has improved tremendously of late, I cannot think of a better way of celebrating than singing and dancing through nine nights. Never mind those whose sleep is disturbed, they can sleep the rest of the year. In this context, I also do not care for all the recent restrictions that are being attempted on Ganpati celebrations. That the Ganpati should be only of a certain height, and the mandap in which it is installed of a certain size. That permissions have to be obtained from the municipality to even install a community Ganpati by paying and bribing its staff. We have a lovely festival, the Goa carnival is only a chorus line in comparison, and arguably it is more colourful and alive than the original carnival in Brazil. I cannot think of another more celebratory sight in the world than an entire city bringing its Ganpatis to Pramod Navalkar's beach and putting its Gods out into the sea. Come again next year.