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The Windmill Lover ([personal profile] quixotic) wrote in [community profile] quixotism2010-06-26 05:17 pm
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Ganesh Chaturti

Ganesh Chaturti is celebrated during August and September of the month. It is Ganesh's holiday, sometimes referred to as Ganesh's birthday. I wasn't a Hindu, but everyone else was (or a good chunk. Secularism in India is oddly skewed) and everywhere you went, people were making their idols. The newspaper would report the unusual as well as the beautiful ones. There was a Ganesh carved on a grain of rice. There were Ganeshs that towered over people. Different colours, different textures, bright, his eyes curved serenely. I had a Ganesh at home, a bronze image made by an old bronzemaker in Orissa, a rare piece and hard to find. I wish I knew more of its history as it knows more of mine, being in my family for as long as I can remember. For me, the story of Ganesh, is the story my grandmother told me before I slept. There was a craftsman who built idols for a living and made a Ganesh one out of clay. Satisfied, he left it to dry but when he checked it the next morning, the trunk had broken. He tried again and again, the trunk was destroyed. Finally, he decided to wait in the night to catch the culprit. In the moonlight, slinking in the dark, was a cat, who approached the idol with wide eyes and leapt on its nose. And it broke! I can't remember how it ended for the craftsman, but I remember being infinitely amused by the cat.

The person who wrote that story was my grandfather.

Mumbai is the city of flats, of grey and concrete, of smog and dirt. We were lucky because our building had a garden, a playhouse, a luxury. Claiming I had a garden was like claiming I had my own swimming pool. The green was fading and fading fast. Living near the sea was the second perk, though I suppose if I visited it now, I would hardly call it that. The sea was grey, dark and absolutely filthy. I could see cloths, objects, trash crash against the rocks. It was sickening. But people had to use it because where else would they get water to wash their clothes? Often, I would see people from the slums gather when the tide was low and rows of slip shorn clothes were spread over the rocks. There was even a small house right at the sea, on a hill, a tiny network of slums who suffered floods whenever the waves rose to crash inbetween the pathways. And every day, I would set out into the balcony and watch. Not for long. It always bothered me to look too long.

At the end of Ganesh Chaturti, the worshippers took their idols to the sea. Clay, metal, stone, it didn't matter what the idols were made of, they were immersed. And the sea grew filthier, year after year. But who can stop religion, especially in India? Religion was the way of the world, religion was how men got rich, or children earned respect. Religion was following the rules to a T, or building own communities that shelter you from the rest of the world.

I didn't rightly understand it until I studied it and continued to do so. I do appreciate it. But in India, I wish it was gone. Though, now, it probably is. Money is the new religion now.
defeatedbyabridge: (Default)

[personal profile] defeatedbyabridge 2010-06-26 11:10 am (UTC)(link)
I have no comment to make on this, am still taking it in, just wanted to say I read it and appreciated you writing it. <3 <3 <3
comfortingsounds: (TV: Glee - Let me love you)

[personal profile] comfortingsounds 2010-06-26 01:40 pm (UTC)(link)
What I love when you write about stuff like this is that I can imagine everything and it's beautiful.