A queer little Notice Board, decked in yellow flower garlands, on Mahadwar Road that read ‘Please gather tomorrow morning at 9.00 am. for ‘Khamba Poojan’ attracts the attention of every passerby. A small notice, but it made sense because it was the beginning of the Ganesh Chaturthi fervor that unfolds as the days past. Have a walk across the city on any day now and you can sense the palpable excitement at every nook and corner of the city.
Ganpat Galli, Maruti Galli, Pangul Galli are bustling with vendors of artificial flowers, crepe paper ribbons, flower vases, et al. A beaming Ganpat Galli is a sight to watch for in the evening as the shops are aglow with fairy lights and strings of tiny lights or ‘Lighting’ as is commonly called! Suddenly, the markets are full of the freshest fruits- mosambis, Indian Shimla Apples ( after a tiring six months on the Australian and New Zealand waxed and labeled varieties), Chickoos, Pomegranates and Guavas. These are the very fruits that will find place of pride at the feet of Lord Ganesh in a week’s time.
Shops are overflowing with decorative stuff, strings of green creepers with yellow and red flowers, bundles of string and flower wicks ( wati and fulwati), camphor boxes and torans as colourful Ganesh Mantaps in Thermocol beckon the common man.
Many wait for the annual exhibitions at Vangmay Charcha Mandal and one at Maruti Galli to pick up the best Thermocol Mantap to adorn the Ganesha. Sweet Marts have already changed their drab looks and look much exuberant with jam packed racks of assorted mithais and colourful boxes. Sultry shops and home fronts have announced that Gouri and Hartalika idols will be available upon orders. Steel-ware shops are sporting the German Silver Chourangs with elaborate meenakari on it.
Almost every street corner is now displaying the bamboo structures that will, in the lineup to Ganesh Chaturthi, metamorphose into lovely Ganesh Pandals in varied hues, shapes and forms. No one seems to mind that extra turn they have to take to make way for the pandals, for soon , these will be the abode of their Ganapati Bappa for ten long days. Come evenings and you can spot school boys going door to door for the donations, armed with receipt books in hands. These elves will gently persuade you to pitch in that extra note and up your donor quotient! Cyclists, pedestrians, car drivers, no one is spared!
Every household has started its earnest preparation to welcome the Lord. Cotton is being rolled, grocery filled and pooja utensils bathe in Ruperi and Pitambari to shine in a spanking new avatar! The mere thought of sumptuous Modaks and Prasad has us swooning in splendor! Children have started pestering dads for their annual quota of the shiniest firecrackers since loud varieties are now almost avoided with even schools pitching in with students!
Clothes and jewelry shops are buzzing. Many jewelry stores have now stocked the durvas, holy ornaments, modaks, etc. in silver and gold. Those who can afford them, will adorn their Lord with them. The Lord has always blessed everyone irrespective of their offerings.
Board your Royal Vehicle and start your journey.
Lord Ganesh…the earth awaits you!