Thursday, September 01, 2005

The temple...Siddhivinayak

Siddhivinayak. It's a name, which brings hope, faith and respect for people in Mumbai and across India. With a major Ganpati festival approaching, I couldn't help but write about Ganpati bappa, who has ruled the city of Mumbai like anything. Nothing auspicious starts without his blessings. He is there at the entrance of the home, on meters on autorickshaw, on every shelf of gift shop. Marriages don't take place without him. We have siddhivinayak sweets, shiddhivinayak refreshments and a friend of mine, Vaibhavi, told me they even have siddhivinayak dairy! No other God can even come close to the popularity which our dear Ganpati bappa enjoys.

The temple of Siddhivinayak is situated at Prabhadevi. Some of my friends and I from hostel, decided to visit this temple one Sunday early morning. We decided on early morning because there is usually a long queue of people to visit this temple. To avoid the crowd we met at 6:30 at the entrance of the temple. One of the first things that struck me when I visited Siddhivinayak temple was the security. A friend of mine, Rashmi, had written in her blog - "At times it makes you wonder, who is this security for...for God or for us?" The same feeling even I experienced! The sand bags, the long sophisticated rifles, men in uniform, made me wonder - Are we at the right place? As we move on, the shock of security is replaced by the shock of sudden arrival of people all around us trying to sell "chadhava". "Hain madam idhar se lo...chappal idhar hi utar do...idhar phool ache hain..." Totally confused I just stopped where I was standing and someone came and pushed a basket loaded with sweets, garlands and aggarbattis into our hand. I looked around as to whom I should pay and comes a reply "Aree madam lelo, paise baad mein dedena!!" but then there no such thing as free lunch in this world. After the required things have been bought, all those people who were surrounding us suddenly vanish. Surprised, I look around and notice that they have moved on to some other approaching people. Then I realize, our faith is their business.

After all this, we move on for actual darshan. There is maze of bamboo that we had to cross to get inside the temple. Once inside we saw a small queue of people moving slowly. We went and joined the queue. Moving slowly and in no hurry I realized, that there was absolutely no crowd and I felt happy about it as we won't have to fight for one glimpse of God. If I had come on a Tuesday, which is considered to be the day of Lord Ganesha, I would had to wait for hours before I could even place my feet in temple.

Once inside, it seemed we were totally cut of from the world out side, the world of heavy security, traffic and pollution. In one corner a small speaker is playing soft chants. There is faint smell of flowers and agarbattis. No one is shouting or screaming. Its surprising, even children are quite and following there parents. Faith does wonders to all. In front of me in the queue was a young couple. Wife was holding a cute little bundle in her arms. The child was very young and was fast asleep too. I looked at the child and wondered has this child come with the faith in God or the life he'l live will make him believe in Him.

Ultimately we arrive for what we had come. The Idol of Ganesha is in striking saffron color with a silver dhoti and a gold crown sitting beautifully on his head. Its said that its one of the rarest idol of Lord Ganesha as it has its trunk on the left side. It's so loaded with garlands that you can only see an innocent face. The idol shines in loads of lights and gold that surrounds it and the roof. Everything inside is beautifully decorated. Looking at the idol, I forgot everything. The idol, though lifeless, gave me hope. Hope not only for me but also for everyone I know. Felt as if something there was pulling out all the negative energy inside me. It seemed that the moment had stopped, but then someone from behind said softly "Keep Moving" and I realized that there are others waiting behind me. I gave one last look and prayed for everyone I know and moved on.

Coming out I saw small group of people gathered in a group and I couldn't help but smile. There in front of me, in the center of the crowd, sitting proudly facing Lord Ganesha is a silver mouse, known as vehicle for Lord Ganesha, in Sanskrit Mushak, in Hindi Vahan. People believe if you say something in its ear, it gets conveyed to Lord Ganesha. Old, young, student, employed or unemployed everyone was trying there luck. Do I call this escapism or faith? Do I call this a ritual or blind faith or superstition? I choose not to question this. I sat down quietly and watched people making their wish into the ear of the mouse. After a while it was time to go. We got up and having a last look at Lord Ganesha we came out feeling refreshed, calm and positive.

I know some people do not believe in God. Even I, at times find it difficult to believe in something that is made of lifeless stone or wood. May be my belief in God is because in today's world when everything is corrupt, bad and ugly I need one thing to hold on to, one thing to believe in. I know God cannot do miracles for me. But by believing in him, I get faith, hope, strength and belief in myself and I believe that if I want I can create miracles for myself.