Ganesh Chaturthi is almost upon us and I feel that familiar longing for my dear old city again. Most times I miss Hyderabad, but it is during festivals that my heart aches.
Eid was special because my friend always invited me to their place to have yummy sheer korma. Knowing that I was a vegetarian, she would instruct her cook to keep my share of the yummy dessert separate from the other stuff being cooked in the kitchen. The sheer korma used to be heaven on earth. A few of my muslim classmates also brought the dessert to school for all of us.
Ganesh Chaturthi festivities started a few days before the day itself, when I, my sister and mom would go out to buy clothes for us, then on the way back we would shop for all kinds of sweets. Then a day before Ganesh Chaturthi we sisters and dad would hop on our scooter and go to old city to get our family Ganpati. Most years me and sister would get our own special, small clay Ganpati to be decorated and maintained exclusively by us. The day of the puja itself would dawn with us having a nice oil massage and basking in the sun for a few minutes and then having a nice long bath, wearing our new clothes and going out into the garden to fetch flowers and leaves of all kinds. We would also make a trip to the neighborhood temple to collect ‘durva’ (3-pronged grass) for the puja. Thereafter we would get home, by which time dad would have installed our Ganpatis on a pretty pedestal, and we would set out with decorating them with our flowers and leaves. All that done, tata would start the puja while we all watched. Post the puja was lunch time! There used to be so much food that even sampling every little thing would fill us to capacity!
Every evening after that we would be invited to each of our neighbors’ houses to see their Ganpatis and to have yummy food at their places. After we came back from our neighbor’s there would be a arti and bhajan at our place, which was the best part of the evening. The 10 days would thus pass in us singing, eating and making merry. Sunday afternoons we went driving around town to see the best Ganpatis, notable among them would be the one at Khairtabad. The day of nimmajan or immersion would find us making a beeline to our local temple to drop our Ganpati off with the chants of Ganpati bappa morya, in the later years we used to perform the nimmajan near our backyard mango tree, because we switched to clay idols.
This year our celebrations were on a much smaller scale than I am used to back home. The next 10 days are sure going to be fun, singing ‘Sukha karta dukha harta’ every evening!
May Ganpati bring good tidings to one and all.