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Friday, September 01, 2006
The much loved elephant god, Ganesha, gets his very own festival. Millions of people all over India celebrate this with much enthusiasm and gusto. Its specially popular in the western state of Maharashtra and even more specifically, in Mumbai or Bombay, the capital city of Maharashtra. Crowds spill out on the streets, carrying clay statues of Ganesha, singing and dancing and banging drums and getting drunk and shouting prayers and what not, till the ferment becomes a fervor and the stream of humanity carrying Ganesha statues aloft, pours into the beaches where the land meets the sea. Wading into the sea, with chants and mantras and the odd curse when someone slips and falls or get pushed, the clay statues are immersed into the sea and they slowly melt away.
* note : all statues are made of baked clay and are totally bio-degradable.
There is a rather silly joke which I always remember when I think of Ganesha Chaturthi.
* note #2 : its not to do with the fact that he is an Elephant God, and yet is carried by a mouse. Thats right, a little mouse is the official carrier of our beloved happy funloving elephant god. That is funny, but also very profound if you look at it differently. Sometimes Ganesha loses his mouse...specially if theres cheese around..and then he doesnt like it a bit... as you can see -
Where were we, ahh yes, the joke. Well it seems once a christian, a hindu, a muslim and a Sikh were on a boat near Mumbai, and it sprung a leak. The christian, prayed to Jesus, who appeared and picked him up and carried him to land. The Muslim prayed to Allah, and was rewarded similarly. The Sikh, prayed to his Guru, who appeared and carried him to land. The Hindu being a follower of Ganesha, prayed to him and Lord Ganesha appeared before him. The hindu was happy and waited for Ganesha to lift him up and save him. To his amazement, Ganesha started to do a little elephant dance singing a lively song and made no move to save him. The boat went under and the Hindu was drowning, and there was lord ganesha, doing the cha cha cha and singing a peppy film song. "Lord why dont u save me" cried the hindu. Lord Ganesha gave a smug smile and said, " You guys make a song and dance and drown me in the water every year dont you..now see what that feels like" ...at which point the Christian, the Sikh and the Muslim standing on the shore, clapped their hands and acknowledged the wisdom of this. The Hindu was going to say something, but swallowed some water and went under, never to resurface.