This year was the first year where we decided to welcome Ganapati Bappa at our residence. Till last year, The Almighty , Lord Ganesha, was welcomed at my in-laws place and we would joyously celebrate his presence. I still remember my first year of being a part of the celebration as the rightful daughter-in-law of the Iyer Family. It was a full on family event . I was just married and barely six month old in the new family and was witnessing the special celebration so closely. At my mom’s place, it was just the first day affair but here it was going to be a five-day event. I was purely anxious to experience the festivity so closely. Since then, the training began to learn each and every aspect of taking care of the culture and the traditions passed on by each growing generation. My grandmom-in-law, the oldest elder in the family , would instruct everyone and everybody would get busy in following the same . If she would find the output not up to the mark she would rightfully tell us our mistakes.
In the first few years , my grandmom-in-law and me would together prepare a few items of the mahaprasad( the first day has an elaborate spread of the prasad). My mom-in-law would parallelly train me with the other difficult preparations. It would include everything , sweet as well savory items which the Lord would eat. Then, my novice experience of handling the meals and prasad ended me in learning everything on trial and error basis. But, somehow practice made me near about perfect. The modak had to be aptly in the shape, the dal-vada had to be of small size and properly fried and so many other things . The many small things which we never would want to try in our daily lives were tried and tested by me. My husband too was getting trained to perform the puja, like an in-house priest so he too was getting confident on the procedure of the first day puja. This year, we decided that we takeover this big responsibility and learn by each passing year. The great day arrived and we with our happy hearts and energetic souls welcomed the Lord to making his graceful presence for the coming five days . I was feverish , tensed and tired with anxiousness . Both the boys are of extreme age, so tantrums too had to be extreme. Would they support in the preparations ? But all the anxiety faded away as we welcomed Bappa. As the tradition goes, all family members got together and all leading ladies including me got into the kitchen to make the elaborate meals. The living room had Bappa sitting gracefully and adorning the entire atmosphere and making everyone happy with his presence. My elder son, now 9, has been seeing all this since birth and so was my meddling 3-year-old munchkin.I was energetic and welcoming the people come and go. My neighbours too were playing their bit by participating and helping in the best possible way.
5 days just flew off. We immersed Bappa and returned home. The Bappa’s corner , now empty, only made me feel sad and suddenly I felt that I had a lot of time and with no work or no hurry. The next day, we all got back to our businesses , my kids got back to their schedule . My bones aching and my eyes drained out and with all the fatigue,I decided to sit quietly, all by myself. While I sat on the couch , the entire event played in my mind in rapid speed. Just before Ganesh Chathurthi we had a spate of viral infections making us infected with cough and cold and high fevers. At that time, I felt , would I be able to shoulder the big responsibility of welcoming Ganapati Bappa with no hindrances. As I thought of all that, it made me feel proud that we did a good job by taking over this responsibility from our parents. Some said, it’s too early for you to learn , some appreciated. But honestly , we took up the responsibility purely to learn and purely to teach our son’s the culture of puja and prayer , the tradition of aarti and the willful participation of all generations. These 5 days we saw each one us, including our neighbors, friends and relatives participate in every activity of preparation. It was as if we were celebrating togetherness. All regrets, pains and sorrows forgotten just to be a part of the pious atmosphere.My husband ensured that he put both the boys on smaller chores . It was just to pull them into preparations with their little protest . It was very important, that my sons should know the culture and there would be no scope of all these traditions dying a slow natural death.
Think about this , we got the cultutal doses from our parents , they in turn from theirs, but I am sure with each transferring generation the cultures would have got diluted a bit or a bend and bow of tradition was obvious. Maintaining religious sanctity is definitely important . The modernity introduced should not lead to dilution of cultural heritage or traditions .But the show must go on. Our children should know to pray they shoud know the baby steps to be taken now so that they are seasoned when they grow up and moreover they dont forget where they belong to. Be it a girl or a boy, it must be our effort to lead them to take up responsibilities. If we are so committed to make them strong in academics then why not make them strong in our respective religions, cultures and our traditions. Dilutions will only lead to extinctions and our younger generations may forget the existence of God, they may forget to converse with God. The prasad’s made , the decorations done, the aarti’s sung all these only teach our children to dedicate some time to God and to the belief . World is shrinking, with the religions becoming intolerant towards each other, our younger generations should only be taught to respect each other and to develop that oneness with God. By introducing our religions and in the best possible form will they not learn to have a sentiment of belongingness to their roots? Our cultural heritages are simple hence our children too should learn to be well-versed with their roots. Maybe , by doing this we will be successful in conserving religion and in turn conserving humanity. The festival concluded with zest and we were happy that we took our baby step to teach our children the meaning of religion in a very small way.