What exactly are people queuing up to do, you ask? They want to get a look at an idol of Ganesha, the hindu god of gluttony and ostentation.*
This idol of Ganesha is bedizened with 30 kilograms of gold, and has insurance cover for Rs. 50 crores. Imagine that. The god needs insurance cover. (Not to mention police cover and a plastic cover to stop the rain from washing away the clay). If I were the insurance company, I’d be willing to provide this insurance for free, just to be able to say: ABC Insurance – we cover the gods.
I don’t get this madness. People from Mumbai who’ve grown up watching this seem to think that the end result is worth all the pain.
But what is this end result? Worship? Because this god can only hear prayers that are uttered from a certain spot in the city? I don’t know what else would necessitate a queue that’s 6 km long (that’s 20,000 people in a single-file line!) to catch a glimpse of a clay idol with lead paint over it, stacked with a gaudy amount of gold jewellery.
If it isn’t worship, is it people getting together, irrespective of religion, celebrating something as a group? (Salman Khan celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi, I’ve heard. There was a fatwa against him last year for indulging in idol worship). ‘If we are all doing the same thing, we must all be the same underneath it all’? If you agree that that’s what this is all for, and that this isn’t altogether a bad goal, here’s my question:
What the hell are you doing the other 360 days of the year? Suddenly, togetherness and what-not don’t matter? Take the local train, why don’t you? There’s more ‘togetherness’ and equality in a coach on a Mumbai local train than in any celebration of Ganesha, 30 kg of gold or not.
* Ganesha’s actually supposed to be the god of wit and facility (‘buddhi‘ and ‘siddhi‘), but I’m not sure he would recognise himself in the mirror today.