The brouhaha all over the city, decorated streets, lanterns and colorful lights all around, full markets, pandaals, the stacks of sweets, chants and the aartis – all of this flashed in my mind when I heard the word, ‘Ganeshotsav’. I felt nostalgic. Having lived my life in several parts of the country, I found this particular festival to be celebrated in the most splendid manner of all. This year I am in Chennai for my MBA at Great Lakes and thought that the festival wouldn’t be as exciting as it used to be in Mumbai, but I was wrong. We Great Lakers actually brought the spirit of Mumbai to Chennai. “Ganpati Bappa Morya” was all that was running in our minds during that period.
The best thing about Great Lakes is the cultural diversity. So, as we saw Chabeel, Onam and Eid being celebrated, we were now to witness the magnificent Ganeshotsav and I was super excited to be a part of it. The preparations started with a bunch of our Marathi batch mates leading our way. Akshay, Gaurav, Mala, Anup, Mandar, Vikrant, Chaitanya, Sushant, Sunny, Glenn, Garima, Tejas, Nivedita, Guneet, Ashutosh, Rasika and many more joined hands to make this happen. We all divided our responsibilities and emerged as a family that came together to ensure nothing was left out. In our minds and hearts we knew how important it was to make the Ganesh Sthapna at a place where you live and carry on the rituals with a pure heart and we were game for it. Everyday workload, quizzes, classes, approaching end terms didn’t make us lose our spirits, it rather encouraged us to be more active.
The team enthusiastically made all the arrangements right from the selection of the idol, the pandaal decoration, the rangolis, Prasad(modak) and the visarjan (immersion) preparations. Needless to mention, we received overwhelming support from the college and Sodexo (catering and maintenance) without which this occasion wouldn’t have been possible. A day before the sthapna, the team members started with the decoration of the place by building a Snow Clad mountain for a pandaal, flowers and garlands covered the ‘cave’ in which the idol would stay, and rangolis, ribbons and lighting filled the room. After two days of tireless efforts we were all set to welcome Ganpati – the God of Wisdom, prosperity and good fortune to our very own college, the Gurukul where we are to attain wisdom. The festival began with the MahaAarati, followed by the other aaratis where all of us gathered and chanted in unison, “Ganpati Bappa Morya”. We prayed to Lord Ganesha seeking his blessings. Many of us would pass by and stay there for hours as it would feel at home. There were even the ‘regulars’ who would stay up all night doing the good ol’ ‘jaagaran’ routine. We’d never thought that the place where we would otherwise gather to watch matches and catch movies would become this lively even without an India-Pak final.
After 2 days of celebrations we were all geared up to take Bappa to his journey towards his abode in Kailash as per the ritual of the ‘visarjan’. We were elated to dance and sing through the procession and immerse ourselves in the colors of the festivity. We began with loud music and gulaal, singing and dancing all around the campus taking Bappa through his journey to the sea. “Pudhchya Varshi Lavkar Yaa” (Come sooner, next year), we screamed. At the Mahabalipuram beach we performed the final aarti and with content in our hearts we saw Ganpati Bappa taking away with him the misfortunes of his devotees.
Photo Credits: Akshay Dongre (Student – PGPM 2013)