Born and brought up in Bombay, I am no stranger to Ganpati visarjans. We lived close to the beach and I was familiar with the chaotic madness, frenetic beating of the dhols accompanied by loud music blaring from the speakers and the huge idols of the visarjan processions. I grew up hearing stories of the Bhagwan cut-piece Ganpati idol (a unique orange idol) and Laalbaugchya Raja. Pune introduced me to a higher degree of religious fervor and I was amazed by the zeal of the devotees who attended the 4 a.m aarti in thousands. Several of my students played the dhol and spent the weeks leading up to the visarjan practicing for the big day (which actually goes on till the next day) !
But nothing I have ever seen and experienced prepared me for the procession I witnessed yesterday. I was expecting the usual procession with flashing lights and a lot of loud music. I was in for a surprise – a rather big surprise. The procession started at 18:30 at the end of my street and took around 10 minutes to come close to my house – it was led by a troupe of drummers, the likes of which I had never seen. I later learnt that it is a folk dance form known as Dollu Kunitha.
There was also Poikkal Kuthirai, the horse dance performed in both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Perched on my balcony, with my recently inherited DSLR I could barely contain my glee and excitement as I clicked photo after photo of the entire procession! A visual treat indeed…and I was so utterly glad to have not missed it! I thought the Ganpati idol that came at the tail-end of the procession would probably pale in comparison, but I was to be proven wrong a second time that evening.
The majestic grandeur of the idol left me awestruck…so much so, that despite the cacophonous noise I had endured for the five days, I couldn’t help but say “Ganpati Bappa Maurya, Pudchya Varshi Lavkar Ya!”