He is the God of knowledge; he loves food, enjoys music and has a mouse as his ride. Now that’s a total dude God right? Mumbai’s favourite Ganpati temple is undeniably ‘Siddhivinayak’ at Prabhadevi. The temple sees A list celebrities, top brass politicos and a lot more. Every Tuesday, thousands of people line up to say hello (read ‘matha tekne’) to the deity they hope will take away all the worries from their lives.
Today is Angariki Sankashta Chaturthi which is a mega event for all Ganpati devotees. And it isn’t very surprising that devotees lined up from early Monday morning to make sure that they got to see the Lord on the auspicious day. What’s surprising is the amount of people standing in that queue despite the scorching heat. There are senior citizens for whom it’s an extreme health risk, there areyoung professionals who probably have taken a day off work and there are children who are subjected to this torture in the name of God.
Now don’t get me for an atheist. I believe in God, I respect God and I appreciate God. Sankashta Chaturthi fasts are the only ones I religious maintain. I recite SankatNashana Stotra and all that, but I do not remember the last time I went to Siddhivinayak.
Jayantrao Salgaokar, who happens to be my grandfather, is a Ganpatya (follower of Ganpati). He has done extensive research and study on the subject. “Ganpati never expects his devotees to give up their duty to come and see him. As long as you pray to him with a pure intention, it is immaterial whether you visit his temple or do it at your work desk.’ He tells me. ‘Of course, you need to have discipline in your ‘bhakti’ but taking 3 days off to just queue up at his mandir is not the ideal way!’
He admits that walking to the temple or queuing up long hours is a matter of faith, but when faith crosses the fine line and starts being insanity, we need to worry.
Today as I drove past Prabhadevi, I felt like it was completely insane. What’s even more insane is the fact that there are donor passes that give you faster Darshan. Are you telling me that if you’re rich enough to spare a couple of hundred/thousand rupees, God prefers to see you and if you don’t believe in paying, you don’t get so many ‘Aashirvaads’? I refuse…hmmpf