Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Virtually Real Ganpati Bappa.....बाप्पा मोरया रे .......

Ganpati Bappa had decided on it , long before Dr Douglas Engelbart , invented the keyboard mouse, while working for the Stanford Research Institute. Not one for flying chariots, eagles, and the like ,he decided that the mouse was His vehicle of choice, in his endeavours to preside as the wise and problem solving God.

It's interesting to realize that in today's world, mouse clicking and pointing leads us to huge stores of information, much of which we use for problem solving and research. I can just visualize Ganpati Bappa, popping a delicious 'modak' into the mouth, chuckling and smiling , and patting his mouse on the back, and enjoying his current festival season, as he sees countless devotees rush back to their laptops and pc's after the pujas.....

She was a great admirer and worshipper of Ganpati. Every personal, educational and other milestone that the children achieved in their life, was celebrated, with a thanksgiving puja (service) to Ganpati Bappa. She followed the thanksgiving rituals, more out of a sense of gratitude, and instilling an awareness, than fear or some kind of rigid adherence to rituals. For many years, the short 2 day Ganpati celebration at their house would have a special event of some scholars reciting the Vedas, in unison,and the sound reverberated and percolated in all the nooks and corners of the house. Followed by a delicious repast of traditional seasonal and festival delicacies for everyone.

By and by , her children grew up and had their own celebrations of Ganpati Bappa across the world. After a lifetime of organizing her own Ganpati worship and festivities, she began visiting her daughter, whose children wanted to experience the whole excitement of welcoming, worshipping, celebrating, and then bidding a watery goodbye to Ganpati Bappa on immersion day.

They were relaxing one afternoon after lunch,, admiring the Ganpati decorations done by the children , and talk veered around to the daughter of a family friend, who had had a very complicated limb surgery and was learning to walk again.
This was being done in the face of a lot of questions as it was a sort of surgery that was actually not mandatory, but important to the girl. The girl was very gutsy, and they decided to invite that family over for an evening with their Ganpati Bappa, to coincide, with the girl's maiden outing after her surgery.

By the time the friends arrived, with the girl pushing her self up the ramp with her walker, wincing with pain, albeit happily, the children and grandchildren of the house, had rushed out and organized a cake with the girls name ,with "well done" inscribed on it, and there was much hiding and smiling when she arrived.

Everyone crowded around the girl, and she was completely surprised by the excitement, as they implored her to cut the cake. '

She did so, eyes full, her parents watching indulgently, the younger kids planning on which piece to aim for, and grandma landed up with a silver plate.

"Wait. Lets dedicate this as "naivedyam" (blessed food) and then you can have it. "

Cake ? Naivedyam? Eh ?

They looked at her, perplexed; she of the pujas and yearly Veda recitations, who always insisted on her daily interactions with Him, in a freshly washed cotton saree
, just
pulled from drying on the clothesline; whose pujas were never highly audible to us, but were heard by Those in Whose honor they were done.

"You are celebrating someone's success and progress. While your own effort is very praiseworthy, remember someone Up There, who looks out for you, and remember Him in all your good times. It doesn't matter what the food item is, and what it is made of. It is the thought and faith behind it that makes things sweeter..... Just pray, virtually offer a piece to Ganpati Bappa, and then distribute the stuff."

It simplified a lot of things for her daughter, who was often confused between being religiously correct, correctly religious, following certain prevailing norms, and often reasoning out certain things by herself, in an effort to make religion and spirituality interesting and convincing .

One hears folks doing research on virtual reality today. Virtual has taken on a new meaning in this age of IT.

But thanks to Ganpati Bappa, and his virtual enjoyment of cake , many years ago, that family learned what virtual reality could be. And was. And is.


  1. That was so touching! Wow, was this lady your mother? Many namastes to her.
    I too am undergoing the "correctly religious/religiously correct" dilemma lately...Thanks for talking about it.

  2. Growing up in IIT was an intellectual ordeal ...if I may say...I had thought a lot on - "why people celebrate?".

    I was a little bit of a cynical child anyways. I didn't like mom working her way in kitchen on the precious holiday that she used to get.Also, I hated the thought of the lead paints getting into the waters of powai lake and all the kachra that will get into it.

    Looking back, Mom surely has reasons, she was trying her best to get me closer to people by inviting a lot of them to celebrate and keeping her doors open. She did succeed in her goal as much as I can gauge. Today in all the situations I face - connecting to people sounds like an easy task.

    I guess there is always a price that one pays for the bigger goods.And at the end of it most of the times it is worth it.

    For the ecosensitive minds, if one is a little sensitive one can do with the pure mud ganesh and be creative to paint it with vegetable colors, use up the old flowers(nirmalya) to do rangolis before they dry and put them into soil as manure for plants.

    I have come a long way, but in the new house the "coming together" is still there.It's good to see a "House full". If Ganapati would be measuring "Foot falls" he would
    be majorly happy anyways....Grandmom said its always good that ways

  3. this was such a lovely moral lesson covered in a sweet-as-modak coating. You are right, innovation and adaptablity is the key to progress, be it the computer mouse or changing beliefs. And Ganesha, the smiling god of industry (which is also another name for progress) would surely approve.

  4. this was such a lovely moral lesson covered in a sweet-as-modak coating. You are right, innovation and adaptablity is the key to progress, be it the computer mouse or changing beliefs. And Ganesha, the smiling god of industry (which is also another name for progress) would surely approve.

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  6. Such a cute gesture and the girl must have felt so loved.Yes I too believe in a flexible God who accomodates our sincerity rather than rigid rules.

  7. rajk,harshu, sucharita, HHG : Thanks so much for the kind words.....

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