Today is a public holiday in Mumbai.
We are currently in a week when we have two major festivals getting celebrated all over India. One is the Eid and the other is the Ganesh (Elephant God). So, most of Mumbai is wearing a festive look.
Muslims celebrate the breaking of their fast and one can see them all dressed up well and moving around for shopping and family get-togethers. The festival was celebrated on Monday and Tuesday in Singapore but in India it was celebrated yesterday.
The Ganesh Festival started off last night and it would go on for the next 11 days. Ganesh is a key God in the Hindu Pantheon, and is revered for his problem-solving focus – everyone worships him with a prayer to make their current venture successful. Huge statues of Ganesh are built out and taken in a procession around various parts of the city. Eventually the Ganesh statues are sunk in the sea. That has been the tradition, especially in Mumbai.
I saw many processions of Ganesh statues yesterday when I had been to the airport side of the city. Big crowds gather, one can see women and children congregating and moving behind the statue, and colourful lights all over the place. Ganesh worship is a very important aspect of life in Mumbai amongst the Hindus.
Festivals such as these bring together the communities and reduce friction between communities. The fact that both Muslims and Hindus were celebrating important festivals almost on the same day is attestation to the strength of India’s communal harmony. And, you can imagine the huge numbers of people involved all over the country, in a nation of over 1.2B people.
Indians like to celebrate in colourful fashion, with lots of sound and colour. These festivals are no exception. The city is surely relishing these couple of days, and I am sure the following week will witness more action involving Ganesh processions all over the city of Mumbai. Of course traffic will be affected somewhat, but there is nothing much of Mumbai traffic that can worsen further !
So, life goes on. People enjoy these festivals and let them give the space on the roads.
Enjoy the colour, sound, sweets and savouries !
1st Sept 2011