It was the 3rd day of Ganesh Festival when it hit me.
I was returning home after work that day when I was caught in a traffic jam. The traffic was moving at a snail's pace. It provided me an opportunity to observe the roadsides - which were buzzing with activities.
I noticed how so many Ganesh pandals were set up on each side of the road. You could count that each lane had about 3 Ganesh pandals. Two at each end of the road, one in the middle. If there was another lane emerging from the middle of the lane, there would be two more pandals - on the diagonal sides of the same intersection. And so on.
There's more. Each pandal is owned by a Ganesh Mandal (Committee). And it is a matter of prestige for those Mandal owners to decorate their Pandals better than others. And so they splurge money. From where does the moolah come from? From the same people who pay tax.
How? Simple, each Ganesh Mandal owner(s) will send their "members" to collect donation from residents of the nearby area. And can you refuse them? They're all politically connected. Getting the idea?
They also play loud music much to the annoyance of the people staying nearby. I can tell you that it is not sensible music. It is not devotional music either. Add it the fact that the horrible traffic jams and chaos it causes. No committee seems to bothered about the tremendous amount of waste it generates. Every year.
Which brings me to the title of this article - Are we really cashing in on our Gods? Are we monetizing them? As long as the concept of God has come into being, we have monetized him - milking his omnipotence. That's in the couple of thousands of years of our civilisation.
Why not sanitize everything? Why not just 1-2 Ganesh Pandals per square kilometer? How about just believing (theists) or not believing (atheists) in that Higher Being and still live happily? Why all this hype around God?
Navaratri has just begun, Dussehra and Durga Puja is just round the corner. Pandals will again be raised. More chaos will pervade. More money will be spent. The cycle will repeat. May the Gods bless us with a sane mind.
[Image courtsey: http://bengalidurgapuja.com/]
Let's go green in celebrating our festivals. A motivating trend is that there is less intensity of Fire Crackers these days during Diwali. Many families, societies, townships have started recognizing the nuisance caused and have started celebrating festivals in an environmentally friendly manner. But those families can be counted on fingertips.
What is the starting point to curb it? Where do we start? Would like to hear your thoughts/ views in the comments below - even if you disagree with my thoughts.