Saturday, September 29, 2007

See you next year

Picture - Times of India

Huge Ganesh idols being taken for immersing in the
Hussain Sagar Lake (temporarily called Vinayak Sagar -
'Vinayak' being another name of Ganesh. 'Sagar' means 'sea'.).
The Indian tricolor flags are seen as an expression
of pride for India winning the T20 Cricket Championship.
The idols in Hyderabad compete in size with the idols in Mumbai,
which is famous for its huge and beautiful Ganesh idols.
Many people place smaller idols from their homes on the trucks
to be immersed in the lake. The cleanup of the lake begins
the next day when the large idols are pulled out. Some people
are just waiting for this as they get into the water, break
the idols and take out the iron rods and sell them.
It is customary to bring an idol and keep it for 1,3
or 10 days. A majority of them are taken to be
immersed on the 10th day. This tradition of
public Ganesh ceremonies (puja) was started
in the last century by Balgangadhar Tilak, an
intellectual, to bring Indian people together
during the British Raj days. Cultural programs are
organized during this time. In Hyderabad, this tradition
has evolved (deteriorated) into collecting money
for these huge Ganeshs from people living around
the neighborhoods/localities where the idols are temporarily
established. While the money is used for decoration and the idol,
some of it is used to play very loud music from Indian films
(which has nothing to do with Ganesh), and at night many of
the organizers get drunk. Many of the organizations are made
of people with questionable moral values and means
of living. This ugly part of the Ganesh festival
is usually unspoken. A beautiful and useful tradition
has turned into an ugly and damaging one. There is
always tension during this time, especially in the
Old City where there is a muslim majority, when Ganesh idols
are taken from all parts of the city in long processions
(such as the one seen in the photo), and so a huge
police force has to be deployed. This year, there
was a particular threat from terrorists, especially
since there were twin blasts last month, and also
since Osama's deputy, Al Zawahiri, had in a video,
listed India as one of Al Qaeda's targets. For some
reason, people in the West have no idea about the
extent to which India is a victim of terrorism. The
Global Incident Map shows some of the problems
in India, and Hyderabad was on this map last month
because of the twin blasts.

Every year overhead power, TV and Internet cables are cut to
let these idols pass through. This year, as in the
past, we lost Internet connection twice - once
when the idol was brought in our lane and once
when the idol was taken out. The Internet connection
was down for about 36 hours, but the power was restored
in about 3 hours. I wish I could have taken a photo
of the drunken dancing taking place in front of the
trucks carrying the idol. Some say this is a safety
valve for the otherwise frustrated lower class people
who are not able to get a piece of the pie in the rapidly
growing economy.


Mike said...

Fantastic colours!

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Waldo Oiseau said...

What a colorful celebration! I have a very small Ganesh who sits on top of my computer monitor. He helps me overcome the obstacles at work. :)