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Just Saying

Just Saying

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Beyond the Indian-ness of it all...

It was not the first time that I was in the city of Hyderabad, yet, somehow, the truth of its existence, the screaming passion and solidarity among its people, came to me just yesterday evening during Ganesh Visharjan in our township, while I walked the tail of an erupting crowd leading a colossal idol of Ganesha on the deck of a tractor. In one word it was sheer madness. Madness that bore the stifling cold evening with colors of life, laughter and music.

It was a whole nation of people intoxicated with excitement that flocked the streets, as Bappa, heaped with garlands, strolled through the aisle of buildings. The DJ rolling out the chartbusters. The thumbing blare of the speakers at once striking fire in the hundreds of souls that danced through the possession. Men, women, kids everyone seemed to wear their heart on their sleeves. Saffron ribbons tied across their head, their faces painted in colors, as they let themselves drown in the celebration. Their nonchalance, for a moment, defeating the world of worries we otherwise carry around ourselves.

Amid the magnificent glory of it all, what touched me more than anything else, was watching a Swedish lady drench herself in the hues of the festival. The very festival and its customary rituals, whom I believed to be ours. Something exclusively Indian. But watching her gyrate in the middle of the crazy crowd, with hundreds of bodies and limbs pressed together through the sweat of celebrations along the cypress lined roads of our compound, it was a wonderful, wonderful sight. Her blonde traces swaying against her radiant face, like the soft beams of dawn on an ice capped Kanchenjunga, every time she raised her hand into the electric air and broke into the exceptionally Indian ‘thumkas’. Rockets were fired into the night sky and they erupted into flaming flowers. Fistful colors floated in the wind above our heads, as I stood in the shower of it all, feeling the music echo in my veins with a sense of oneness. It was a sacred feeling of humanity that crossed through me amid all the chaos and insanity of this world.

For over six hours the possession continued to roll through the various lanes of of Rain Tree Park, with women coming out onto the streets with coconuts and diyas lit over a stainless steel thali to perform the religious aarti, the bidding adieu to the lord and promising, praying for his grand return the next year. Every soul present there, lent their voice to the thundering chants of ‘Ganapati Bappa Morya, Agle Baras Tu Jaldi Aa’. Their faces alight in a tender mix of joy and sorrow. It was like a smile whose reason was a tear. And today morning as I jogged through the quiet lanes, the mist feeling like frozen vapor against my face and saw the empty mandap, the confetti bursts splattered on the roads, it was their unanimous smile above everything else, that made me realize that being Indian is more than just a nationality. It is perhaps binding the universe together with a craziness called love.

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