Queues of people 6 km in length

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.

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* 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.

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7 thoughts on “Queues of people 6 km in length”

  1. Totally agree with you on together ness and equality in coaches of mumbai trains. They could worship the idol simply if the end result is worship. But why gold and fuss about insurance and the police cover ?

  2. Police protection because somebody threatened to bomb the place. And why wouldn’t they? Where else will you find a million visitors a day, queuing up in tens of thousands?

    The gold is just projected vanity.

  3. Also, an important aspect that you did not mention is the pollution that these idols create. I’m from Hyderabad, and the Hussain Sagar lake has been raped to death because of idol immersion year after year (of course there has been some contribution to all this from sewage emission and the like but now it’s all treated before letting it out whereas nothing is being done about the idol immersion). And pollution is a common theme in almost all major Hindu festivals: Diwali, Holi…Whatever happened to the pagan religions that respected nature?

  4. They could take at least the lead paint out. The rest of it is just clay, right?

    If I had to list out all the things that are silly/bad/just-plain-wrong about religion… you know what, check back in the morning and I might have something!

  5. Everything doesn’t have to serve *some* purpose. Somethings are there for pure entertainment. So if standing in 6km long queues makes people happy, let them be. As for all the pollution the idol immersion creates, what is needed is better ways to do away with the waste water, not doing away with the festival all together..
    And as for salman khan worshiping ganpati, its probably because his mother is a maharashtrian brahmin, nothing deeper or more meaningful than that there..

  6. If the people who’re standing in this queue that stretches to 6km are prepared to accept that it’s for some random fun, I’m all for it. I know random fun. The thing is, I don’t think that’s what they think they are doing. I may be wrong.

    Taking the lead out of the paint, or taking out the paint altogether is a much simpler way of curbing water pollution. Does the statue have to be in technicolour for it to be god? Or to be entertainment. It’s not like these people get to look at the statue for more than 2 seconds!

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