The Ganesh festival is in full swing here in Mumbai now. When I came home from office on Monday I could hear a lot of people drumming and dancing in the street. At that time I just wanted to get to bed early, as I knew I had to get up early the day after. But on Tuesday we decided that it was time to join in the fun. I knew from last year that this drumming and dancing is a clear signal that the procession that goes to immerse the idols is on its way. When we came to the Powai beach there were already a lot of devotes there. Some idols had already been immersed, and while we were there, a lot more came. The locals really enjoyed having some foreigners there, and I had to pose for quite a few pictures.
Yesterday we went over to Juhu beach, one of the biggest beaches in Mumbai. I thought that it would be some huge immersions there, but unfortunately that was not the case. Apparently, there are only immersions on specific days (the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 11th day of the period if I’m right).
The immersion is a very important part of the festival. In Hinduism as such water and fire are two of the most important elements. This is something that has really been more obvious to me after I have seen quite a few of the rituals. So the idea of “drowning” a God in water is maybe not as strange as some people might think it would be. If I’m not completely wrong, life started to exists from the river of Ganges, and that’s where everything is originated from. Holy rivers are the most holy of all elements in Hinduism.
Last year I remember that I struggled a bit to agree with myself if this is really a holy festival, or more just like a party. Now I think I have to realize that it is a huge part of both. That it is a party is obviously the case. This festival is probably the loudest festival of them all! And the playing and drumming in the streets are really huge.
But it has also become very clear to me that this is also very much a religious festival. When you see people placing the idols close the beach side and worships them, it is difficult not to be touched by it. And that this really mean a lot to the worshippers is quite easy to see.
On Sunday it is the last day of the festival, and the day with the most important immersion. This is the day called Anant Chaturdashi, where millions are expected to go to the Chowpatty beach in central Mumbai. We haven’t really decided whether or not we will go to the largest beach in Mumbai to see it. But I guess it is quite likely that we will do exactly that.
Talk to you soon!