Hinduism is quintessentially said to be a religion of millions of Gods. Yet it is based on a firm belief in the Absolute Divine—the singular force that joins all facets of existence. Most Hindus believe that this Absolute takes on many forms, however, and so worshippers pray to different Gods and Goddesses who embody the power of the Divine.
Its the time of the year when the most endearable of all Gods, Ganesh, is lovingly brought home, served, revered with pomp, grandeur. The legendary son Of Shiv and Parvati, harbinger of wealth and happiness, remover of obstacles, God of mercy, has entered homes of devotees today, on Ganesh Chaturthi, to be immersed ten days later.
Indias culture is unique especially in its religiosity and interpretations of Hindu philosophy guised under iconic reverence. On analysis, what emerges amply clear is the propensity of faith in a Power which is All loving, All Pervasive, All Encompassing. To the discerning it is an underlining of the essential need for bringing forth periodically the good, noble, virtuous facet of ones soul to the forefront, relegating the material, selfish and impure aspect to the background.
My experience with Ganesh Chaturthi was unforgettable. Being a North Indian, this festival was not a part of those which were celebrated at home. However the Lord in this form was close to the heart . On Ganesha chaturthi many years ago, at around 7.00 a. am., hubby back from a late night shoot, smiled mischievously with his hands behind his back. Asked me to close my eyes and on opening them saw the most beautiful little Ganesha idol. I was awed, thrilled and vexed simultaneously, being completely ignorant of procedures of worship and rituals involved.
Many frantic calls to my Maharashtrian friends, frenzied shopping for Puja items and other requisites, saw a colorfully decorated ‘mandap’ with the elephant headed God finally installed. For five years we followed the practise with as much sincerity as a questioning mind could summon.
Today, while not wishing to indulge in criticism of the practise or those to who it is a pre-requisite to a virtuous life, one has chosen to interpret it a tad philosophically.
The ‘akhand jyot’ or the continually lit oil lamp, is substituted with the creation of light within ones heart and mind for all species of life on earth, love for the Lord denotes being virtuous in thought word and deed, serving ones family and those in need is akin to serving Him, exploring the Causal, over and above the Manifested is a way of life, attempting to enjoy the merits of its bounties, albeit as a blessing, is the Prayer one adheres to, religiously, or atleast attempts to.
To impose the obligation on a God, for ridding you of your karma, appeasing your hearts desires and insuring a trouble free-life, in barter for a strictly imposed ritualistic ten day servitude, is blasphemous to me, no matter how Kind-hearted He is professed to be. More than anything, if one does confer with the notion of a God up there willing to bestow bounties on those deserving of it, then what He perhaps expects is a willingness and desire to duplicate His attributes of being kind hearted, compassionate, just, noble, humane.
Let us instead consider this a festival to re-evaluate our selves, actions and goals. To re-assess our paths, waylay those less deserving of our attention, adopt unswervingly that which needs to be pursued. Re-kindle in our hearts a caring towards those we ignore, a kindly touch for those in need , a loving gesture towards who we take for granted. Pledging to be the person who we know exists within but are inhibited to bring to the surface, replete with goodness and light. Let us begin this year, this life, anew.
Bless you all!