Ganapati Bappa Moriya – the sound of this pious chant is etched in my memory. It was an integral part of my childhood and is also an emotion that I want my children to respect. The festivities, colour, gaiety and delicacies of Ganesh Chaturthi are an important part of every Mumbaikar’s life. The decorations and processions fill up everyone’s heart with a kind of joy that is unforgettable. So when the twists of life brought my family and me to the shores of Dubai, I feared that I’d have to leave behind the festivities that had shaped my childhood and made me the person that I am. However, thanks to the benevolence of Dubai and its leaders and rulers, and of course the blessings of Ganapati Bappa I, for the last 15 years, have been bringing Bappa home each year.

When a Mumbaikar landed in Dubai 15 years (now now 18!) back she was not sure she would be able to bring Ganapati Bappa home each Ganesh Chaturthi. She didn’t know that her new ‘home’ would give her a chance to welcome Bappa with the same fervour! She narrates her experience.

– The Indian Trumpet’s ‘Festival Special’ edition

What started as a simple act of bringing home Ganapati Bappa’s clay deity, making paper decorations, performing a small puja and cooking and distributing prasad has now evolved into a much awaited event. I, along with my friends and family, start preparing for Ganesh Chaturthi in the month of July itself. We begin by discussing the theme for the decorations, with a few friends volunteering to get decorations for me from India. The festival usually falls towards the end of August or early September. Once the decorations are sorted, we head on the temple in Bur Dubai for the selection of the idol, which is one of our favourite family rituals. Interestingly, over the years a huge number of idols have become available in Dubai. A day before the festival, we decorate the pandal and Bappa. The next morning, we welcome Ganapati Bappa home with an aarti thali amidst loud chants of “Ganapati Bappa Moriya”. And just with his presence Bappa spreads joy in the home. Once the Ganesh Sthapana is completed, the neighbours drop in for the first aarti. I am very particular that the puja is performed just like my mother taught me, especially for I would like our children to get familiar with the traditions and it is heart-warming to watch the children adorn Indian wear and participate in the rituals. Another reason why I love the festival is because it brings together the community. It is wonderful to watch everyone pray and eat together. Each year, a certain sense of calmness fills my home.

The celebrations continue with generous intake of lovely mithais, and yes, no one can stop at just one laddo or modak! The dinner, post the puja, is another lavish spread. The house is filled with love and treats till the day of Visarjan. Bappa is worshipped for ten days from Bhadrapada Shudha Chaturthi to the Ananta Chaturdashi and on the 11th day, the idol is immersed in a river or sea symbolising a ritual see-off of the Lord in his journey towards his abode in Kailash while taking away with him the misfortunes of his devotees. At the time of Visarjan, some say a silent prayer, a few get moist-eyed and many begin to look forward to Bappa’s arrival next year. As for me, just like all the years gone by this time too I will send off Bappa with a heavy heart and a fervent prayer, ‘Purcha varshi, laukar ya’ (Come back soon again, next year).

Keep blowing the Trumpet! This & many more stories await in the pages!