Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Some More Glimpses

 The boat docked at the shore, It is the monsoon time and today is Visarjan so time to enjoy instead of going to high sea.

The most traditional way to carry Ganpati for Visarjan is on a Zula or swing hung from a bamboo.

 Sunset from Malbandar, Khandheri, stands witness to the life on the shores of Thal. Today it is a day for festivities.

Ganpati is a festival for letting loose the imagination. Instead of Arjun here is Ganpati and Krishna is his the sarathi/ Charioteer. It is not a confusion or ignorance about our history or mythology but creative liberties only Hinduism tolerates. This is Arjun awatar Ganapti.


How can I miss out the visarjan in my society. I was back from the village and on the 7th day, that is the no.of days we have Ganpati in our society in Mumbai. As always I am a complete recluse outside my Koli community, whether I am in Mumbai or Blr. Actually the thruth is I am a distant observer anywhere, that is if I am not an organizer. I watched the visarjan from the balcony. I am rarely a part of these celebrations or even if I am, I'm very discreet.


You see the local band playing music.  The truck is ready for visarjan and people come out of their homes to see off the Ganpati Bappa. The essence here is the cosmopolitan celebrations involving all castes and religions, people who have left their native lands in search of greener opportunities  and have made Mumbai their home. You will see a Sardar, Muslim, Christians, Gujarati, Punjabi, Kannadiga, Bengali etc all 250 families trying to live in harmony, all participating in each others festivals. After Ganpati there will be Navaratri celebrations and then Christmas Party and New year celebrations. The National holidays like Republic Day and 15th Aug are the neutral reasons to unite this diversity. It is the Siddhivinayak's blessing that makes Mumbai what it is!

Well and here is Chimi enjoying the vacation with her Hrushi Mama :)
Did you notice she has got a tail trim, by her groomer and my Dad!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Gauri Visarjan

After our Ganpati Visarjan we were about to return home via the seashore. It had grown dark but Sushil mentioned that the Gauri were expected to come down on the seashore any moment. As Deewane's Gaur is his family's Gaur we decided to give him company. Sapna had not seen Gauri Visarjan last year so she too was keen.

Meanwhile we watched other Ganaptis being sent off. The first Gaur to arrive for Visarjan was the Chaipatil family's. The Gaur is carried along with the chair on the head by a women and brought to the shore without disturbing the flower decorations. We too offered our prayers and watched them do the aarti and then the ladies danced around the Gaur. Meanwhile the Deewane Family's Gaur also came to the shore.

We bid our final goodbyes to every one and returned home. The next day I was too return to Mumbai. My time was up. I had to return to Blr on Saturday. Take rest on Sunday and Monday onwards I would return to my sterile Corporate world.

Yet it is the want of not just butter but also jam on the bread that takes us places. I do have plans to return one day...to my beloved Thal.

Ganpati Visarjan

Our Ganpati goes along with the Gauri so this year the visarjan/ farewell was on the 6th day after Chaturthi, it was the 16th. Visarjan is always done at dusk and the entire scene is something to experience.

Earlier we would carry our Ganpati on the large swing we had at home. It would be hung from a bamboo pole and my father's maternal cousins carried it to the Malbandar. Especially Uttam Kaka always claimed that it was his duty and respect bestowed by us on him, he also is the burliest among all of my father's cousins. However now since we dismantled our swing from the terrace and we do not have burly men at home ;) Mothe Baba the genius converted it into a cart, He made it himself and uses the cart only for our own religious processions in Thal.

It has been tradition that the Patil families both ( Nagesh Patil and Vani family) take their Ganpati for emmersion  together. So in that tradition we decided that we will start from home at 5.30 pm for visarjan.

On the day of the visarjan the naivedya offered is not distributed as prasad but instead it is packed as a Shidori or packed meal for the Bappa as he will be traveling back to his abode.

At 5pm we moved the Ganpati and place him near the main door so that we could do the aukshan, everyone gets a darshan before departure. Ganpati is never moved from the sthapana place directly, it is a tradition to do a goodbye at the door and then move him.
I admire the fact that Sumeet wears the Nangota or Rumal for all religious celebrations when today the village youngsters shy away from wearing it.

Nagesh Patil family were also getting their Ganpati ready and the the push cart was stationed in front of their home which is just behind ours. The loud Ganpati Bappa Morya! was a signal for us to get ours out too by the time the cart was in front of our home. After placing our Ganpati on the cart the men folk took turns to push the cart while the others helped all the way through the old bazaar, bus stand and through Undher Ali and on to the Malbandar. All this among chants of Ganpati Bappa Morya!!

I would like to point out that we maintained a noise free Visarjan even though it was in the village. We could hear a lot of bands playing and loudspeakers blaring in the distant. For us it was just the pure chanting and villagers chanted back in response to our Ganpati Bappa Morya! as we moved ahead.

Baabli Kaki was praying for the family all along . It sounded like she was brainwashing the Bappa. I was missing the fact that there were no senior women from Vani family to do it for us but found solace that aleast B kaki was doing it. She was muttering something like, "Kaama dhandhya la pora jatan, yashacha vata des, Phurach dekh, mangari valu nako. Sukhi thev, Vighna kai haanu nako." Her tone was of demand for her children. It made me sentimental how much the success of the children meant to the mother in her.

We were the first few to reach the Malbandar, the pristine beach of Thal. The sun was on the horizon and so without wasting much time we did the farewell aarti. Kishor Bhau quickly removed his T shirt and his two boys followed suit they to wanted to take the Ganpati into the sea.
I was teasing them that they are the new trainees. Technically Kishor Bhau is the eldest among the  current generation in the two families and it is his duty to perform the Visarjan. Lalit, Hrushi and Sumeet were standing back and watching. The sun was ready to submerge in the sea, first with the Vani's Ganpati and then the Patil's Ganpati, Kishore Bhau along with another man carried the Bappa straight into the sea.

Ganpati Bappa Morya! Pudhchya Varshi Lavkar Ya! 
Ganpati Gele Gavala, Chain Padhe Na Aamhala!

Ganpati Bappa Morya! Come back soon next year! 
Ganpati has gone home, leaving us restless.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Gaur Basli

In Thal, Gauri pooja starts at midnight with the a lady swooning and performing the act of "khelane". Where the belief is that the Gauri makes her appearance in a chosen women. In Koli Gauri is called just Gaur. This Gauri pooja took place at Deewane Family's old home. Sapna and me attended there as my Savitri Atya does her pooja there. Every lady has her own Gauri depending on which family she belongs to before marriage. When I was a kid I would accompany my Mom to Sakharkar family's Gaur. This is also a way of retaining their maternal relations and identity.

Shevanthi does the Gauri Khelane, you also see her along with Manubai with whom she has decorated the Gaur.

The next day noon is the main pooja where a picture of Gauri is put on a chair and she is decked up with a saree and lots of flowers. It is very colorful and vibrant. Fruits and some vegetables and maize is hung from the roof as signs of fertility. The senior woman of the hosting home does the offering of the Vaan (symbols of fertility) consisting of a Soop (that wicker flat basket) filled with coconut, vegetables and fruits, haldi kunku. Then the rest of the visiting women are allowed to make their offering and prayers. Soon you see a heap of flowers and fruits in front of the Gauri.

Following this aukshan/ aarti is done, haldi kunku is exchanged with other women. The senior women relatives give the younger ones money for green bangles. It is like showing that the younger women's fertility and well being of the married couple is very important to them. Sapna got hers from Shevanthibai and Manubai, she was shy to accept money from these people who she did not know are related to us in a distant way, I coaxed her to accept and take their blessings. Though this festival is very important for married women, unmarried also participate in a big way. 

After the pooja the women go to their maternal home for lunch. In homes that do not have Ganpati make a chicken meal for their returning daughter. While for the women who abstain from meat during Ganpati (In my family's case we are vegetarian) there is a vegetarian spread. Except the non veg dish other items on the Taat are the almost the same. It goes like this, Hirva Masala Moog Dal, Dhaan , pickle, papad, God Ghari, any dried beans bhaaji, Tomatochi Bhaaji(this one is the star) or Barik Methi Moog Dal

The rest of the day is filled with dancing at the family homes of people hosting the Gaur. In my family like I mentioned my Mom went to the Sakharkarachi Gaur, Mothi Aai and Savitri Aatya to Deewanyachi Gaur and Devaki Kaki to Chaipatlachi Gaur. While Aruna Kaki went to Colaba in Mumbai.

Again at night the women gather to sing songs and dance to the rythym of the dhol. When we were kids we loved Manubai's dhol prowess and we would sing, dhabuk chav dhupchav, dhabuk chav dhup chav! Ever heard a dhol emitting those bols ;) LOL. Many a times Manubai would leave the dhol and pluck a twig from a near by Nigurdi or Bhendi Tree and give it in our hands to make us look like cheer leaders :P

The koli dance you see on TV is choreographed and not essentially Koli though the music is. The true koli dance is lifting one hand in the air, bent at the elbow and the other folded across the midriff  along with the bending legs one at a time and limping in a circle. It is a very graceful dance and not at all filmy or tamasha like. However now the stage performances have evolved to suit the demands of the public.

The music played on the loudspeaker at the Gauri celebration is cassettes of Koligeete sung by some popular talent. Infact I met one such Koli / Agri geet singer at Charu's home. He is known by his orchestra Dadu's. He is thoroughly entertaining what with his heavy jewelry. He is a celebrity in the Koli community (I had never heard of him). He was dressed in black and gold jazzy clothes and looked like the nth version of Bappi Lahiri and his car, Oh boy! was a large specially designed vehicle painted in shades of pink and a keyboard theme and a doodle of Dadu's written across the sides. I was impressed how he took his image so seriously even on a private visit. My multi-talented Jiju is also a citizen journalist and he meets and befriends a lot of weird people you see! Imagine the recall I have, I am even mentioning this guy, Dadu's on this blog, I  had winced when I was introduced to him. If Ajay-Atul can change the Marathi music world with their superb folk music then this caricature can atleast make koli music noticeable with his glam sham he thinks, may be. Bayanchi  (Devi in Koli) Gaani gaato mhane. Aso, wish he evolves to give koli music a better taste. 

Gaurubai Vachav :P !!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Omkar Swarupa Vividh Tuzi Rupe

Omkar Swarupa You Have So Many Awatars!

Bhabhi family's Ganpati

Nagesh Patil family's Ballaleshwar, Pali

Bhate family's Ganaraj

Ballaleshwar and Bal Ganesh at Charushiela and Pramod Koli's home. This Ballaleshwar is carved on Thermacol and handpainted by my P Bhauji/ BIL. He is a wonderful and talented set creator and decorator hobbyist.

This one got the first prize for the best decoration in Thal and surrounding villages. The prize was sponsored by a local industrial unit.
Spotted this one glittering on someone's OTi (entrance deck of a home)

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Six Days Of Ganpati

The 11th morning dawned with mangalya, the air was filled with a purity only a soul can sense in a village messed up by heavy rains. Most of us woke up by 4.30 am and took turns in the single bathroom in the house to get cleansed for the sthapana of the Parthiv Ganpati. Parthiv means human or earthly, this is because the Ganpati visits us for a short stay and then he has to be sent off. The idol has to be perishable so that the lord can come back in a new form.

Our Vani family (our name in Thal) Ganpati stays with us from Chaturthi upto Gauri Visarjan. Depending on the thithi sometimes the lord resides at our home for 5 days or 6 days. This year the stay was for 6 days. It is always the most thrilling time of the year for us.

In Thal the Ganesh Chaturthi begins by chasing of the priest while the Lord who has taken his seat awaits the pooja. We fast untill the pooja is complete. It was 10.30 am and we were all decked up and still waiting for the pujari. Finally I lost it and told Sumeet that we should not wait for the pujari anymore. The Brahmin whom we respect most times if he is dutiful and scholarly do not deserve undue respect if they try to be larger than the lord himself. As was evident from his disappearance the Bhat was lured by a bigger dakshiNa/ fee.

Mothe baba suggested we call Nagesh Kaka, our only other second relative in the Patil family. He recites the Atharvashirshya from the booklet and guides in the pooja I was told. My Dad who is an expert in all types of poojas like Rudra, Atharvashirshya and even Purush sukta used to perform the poojas until some years ago  while we celebrated Ganpati in Mumbai but after Mothe Baba moved back to Thal  and the Ganpati celebrations, he stopped. Dad hates Thal in the rainy season so we ended up in crisis. I even suggested to Sumeet, a Parthiv sthapana over phone by Dad, who was sitting pretty in Mumbai. Finally we agreed to call N Kaka. Sumeet and Sapna did the pooja and I felt our family is blessed. In a long time I was witness to a pooja being done in the family by a young couple. It is a divine feeling of an all pervasive purity and fertility one senses in a home vibrant with chanting, colors of the powders, gulal, halad, kunku, abir! The sweet smell of the son chapha and other flowers. The final crowing glory of the the crimson hibiscus and fresh young greens of the durva and shami.

This followed by the aarti Sukhakarta Dukhaharta,  Yei ho Vithale Maze Mauli ye... and all the aartis we know closed by a Mantra pushpanjali and Ganpati Bappa Morya!! 

The Karpoor permeates the entire devghar overpowering all the sweet smells. Before the thirtha prasad are distributed everyone touches the elder's feet and takes blessings. Suddenly I realize that I am now taking on the mantle of a family elder. It's been a slow process and I never thought I will have to assume responsibilities this way. Yes since Sumeet and Sapna decided to get married I have been gently shoved into it. I was missing my Aai and Devaki Kaki a lot. I had always enjoyed all the festivals never realising that I might have to take on their place ever. Mothi Aai is almost retired out of this but does keep a check. Savitri Atya is a good consultant reminding me of my duties from time to time.

After the pooja we prepared a faral of Sabudana Khichadi, Kakdichi Koshimbir and Batatyachi bhaaji minus the shengdane in Shengdana Batata Bhaaji followed by large cups of ginger tea.

Once done with the potoba / pet pooja the women gathered around the Undre/ modak ingredients to shape them. I must accept I have lost my skill. I promise to practice and make divine ones next year. Yes but I helped make Mutke or rice flour empty turnovers. These are a staple whenever modak are made. They actually were desinged to use up leftover dough from the modak making but in our family it has the status of a special bread with which we enjoy a spicy coconuty gravy of Birda (sprouted) or fresh Val.

The naivedya Taat consisted of two steel plates shaped like banana leaves. One filled with 21 Undre/ Modak and the other with Varan, Bhaat, Val and Shektachya shinganchi bhaaji and Mutke. We broke our upvas with this Taat at dusk.

The evening aarti is performed after the fast breaking. This is an exception on the first day. On rest of the days the aarti is done after the naivedya is offered and before serving the meal. Each meal was unique with a different sweet dish for Naivedya each day all the way traditional, Gavhachi Kheer, Gulabjamun, Shevayanchi kheer and Talalele Modak!

The first day was very hectic with our entire clan coming over for darshan and also all our neighbors and wellwishers in the village. There are many people who do not consume even water till they do darshan of Ganpati in 5 different homes. When I was younger and without responsibilities I too would visit other homes. This year on the Chaturthi I was tired out and was not able to greet everyone visiting us. Sapna my SIL did that job wonderfully, she is still young and is the Karti of the home now.

Every single day we performed the pooja and morning and evening aarti for the Bappa. I as an elder prayed that my family be blessed. That Ganraya give us the strength to face adversities and bring with him prosperity.

I used to be dead tired at the end of the day and would go to bed at 11.30pm and wake up at 4.30 am everyday to check the oil lamp and agarbatti. Those days of a darshan at the early morning hour was the most powerful and humbling experience for me.

Ganpati Bappa Morya~!!  Ganpati Bappa Morya~ ~!!  Ganpati Bappa Morya~ ~ ~!!

Ganaraj Yeti Ghara

Welcoming Ganapati and the preparations

I am back from Thal with loads of pictures and memories of a wonderful Ganpati and Gauri festivities. It was so special to be among family, relatives and friends. Thal is the land of convergence of the people living away from the village during this festival. Let me try to share the happiness I enjoyed there.

Our Ganesh Murti was a creation by a local artist in Thal, made with clay and mostly hand painted, because the body color is always spray painted. On the 10th night Sumeet and Sushil brought home the idol. As is the tradition they wrapped a large white handkerchief around bappa while the women at home drew five lines with rangoli as symbol of purity and placed a Paat /platform for the lord to sit and got the aarti ready to welcome him.

While bringing the lord home the men ensured that Ganpati Bappa was covered to save him from evil eye. We welcomed him by first waving a jar of water around the idol and pouring it on the feet of the person carrying the idol. Then  unrapped him and did aukshan or aarti.

That night the men assembled the specially made set. The decoration were made with Thermacol. I suggested going back to the ecofriendly cloth decoration we used in the earlier days. There was a uproar of laughter,  about how those mirror work curtains and toran from Khadi had been our signature for many many years.
I saw some new trends this time, the market had beautiful one time use jewelry for the lord. Sumeet had bought beautiful mukut (crown) and KaNThi (necklaces). I had bought lovely footprint stickers with shiny stones and satin ribbon rose garlands.

There was so much excitement and I was thrilled as I was attending Ganpati after 5 years. Some one was cleaning the durva (grass with cooling medicinal properties). One was assembling the electricals, other tying the crown and me trying to help.

Come over tomorrow to read about the sthapana and pooja during Ganaraj's stay.

On Trail