As September approaches, preparations for one of India’s most widely celebrated festivals begins in full swing. Everybody joins in to celebrate the birth anniversary of Lord Ganesha with grandeur and delight.
The celebrations here in Neelkanth Gardens were truly one of a kind, the whole colony spends it together, we truly are like one big family. Everybody contributes in making it a memorable week, and preparations for the festival always start a month in advance. A range of fun entertainment is organised – dance, singing, skits and everyone’s favourite, the ladies fashion show.
The Ganesh idol is welcomed with a dhol and deafening firecrackers, every person (old and young), joined in to dance and lead the way till the beautifully decorated mandap, in which the idol will make its home for the next 5 days. Tasty home cooked sweets and prasad are distributed each morning and evening after the aarti, which is performed by our colony’s very own senior citizens. It always felt good to see people take out time from their busy lives, to participate in the pujas, go to great lengths to distribute sweets an organise the arrangements for the events and take the extra effort to go for late night practices after a full day of work and looking after the family, for some this was a way to destress.
I remember the anticipation I felt, hoping my friends and I would be in the same group for the dance, getting excited to know what song we’ll be dancing on and the frenzy behind wearing costumes and putting on heavy makeup. Singing on stage even helped me overcome my stage fright and shyness, compliments from the audience always boosted my confidence! After my performance, I would sit back and relax with my friends, and from the audience, watch all the other dances, cheering and whopping after every performance. Of course, the most crucial part of each evening, standing at the chaat stall and devouring gol gappas! Also, packing take-away Chinese food from the stall, this was the only time I got to eat my favourite food five days in a row!
The blaring music, the beaming and multicoloured lights, the tumultuous applause after each show and the dazzling ornamentation of the area, embraced Lord Ganesh’s arrival into our homely abode, as we prayed for each other and our loved one’s health and wealth. We bid him farewell together in the same way we welcome him, as we look forward to next year’s celebrations. This is how Neelkanth Gardens celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi, like a family.