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The Vaishnodevi Experience 2023

My first trip to Vaishnodevi was unimpressive. Climbing was hard, and it only served to highlight how badly out of shape I was, while my in-laws managed to cope so much better. Further, I hadn’t quite realized that the cave experience wouldn’t be the same as I had imagined, since the original cave was only opened at certain times a year, and that we only entered a newly created tunnel, one far easier to access, and hence more manageable with the crowds that thronged the mountain shrine. The resulting experience at the shrine, for barely a fraction of a second, hardly compared to what I had expected / imagined / heard about. So, for me, Vaishnodevi was like any other temple, nothing to write home about, something that was reflected (though not explicitly mentioned) in the blog post I wrote then.

Ganpati Bappa Morya! Pudchya Varshi Laukar Yaa!

Those are the words which resound through the air as we bid goodbye to the Lord. Literally, they would translate to 'Glory to the Lord! Come again soon next year', but to the devotees who bid goodbye to the Lord with these words, it means so much more. 

To them, it is the culmination of ten days of festivities, when they left their regular life behind and thought of the Lord morning, noon and night! It was Him they thought of, waking early in the morning, ready to perform the prayers to begin the day..... for ten days, they made only what they believed the Lord loved to eat. For ten days, they sang his glory twice a day, with complete enthusiasm, even if not always in tune! For ten days, they scanned their neighbourhoods for interesting idols of the Lord to see, and even stood in queues for hours just to get a glimpse of their favourite deities. For ten days, they had just one thought in mind - to make the most of the arrival of their Lord. He is, after all, Vighnaharta - the one who would destroy all the obstacles in their path. It was only fair that they took the best possible care of Him while He visited their home. He is the one  guest they welcome wholeheartedly into their homes, and look forward to his arrival every year! And even as they get ready for sending him off, they are busy thinking of how they will make his arrival even more special the next year! Which is why they entreat him to return early the next year!

This year, the Lord arrived amidst pouring rains, and he decided to leave amidst pouring rains too! After a couple of dry days, the heavens seem to have opened up just for Him to leave! However, the enthusiasm has not abated.....

We went for a walk in the evening, hoping to catch a glimpse of a few Ganpatis on their way to the sea. The larger ones wouldnt leave until much later, but we hoped to see at least some of the smaller ones, and we weren't disappointed. 

The truck to carry the Chedda Nagar Ganpati was just getting ready
... and this was past 5 in the evening!

Near the Chembur station, a group of devotees were desperately trying to get the crackers lit!
Maybe even the Lord was tired of all that noise!!!
But did sending heavy rains help in reducing the noise?
The crackers went off soon, as did the loudpeakers!

A huge Ganpati was on his way

While the devotees had their umbrellas, the Lord got drenched!

A closer look... see the throne...

Our Chembur Mandi (vegetable market) Ganpati on his way..

Two small Ganpatis await their larger friend for the final journey

A Family pushing a cart with their Ganpati, and talking turns in riding with Him!

Making the most of the journey in spite of the rain!

Running to keep pace!

A lavishly decorated home Ganpati

The drums, which are the most coveted part of the procession

Finally, our Ganpati is on his way, accompanied by half the colony! 

The decoration of the truck....
Can you even make out that its a huge truck??

Anna accompanies the Lord!

One final glimpse!

The ten days of the festival are over, and it is now time to get back to our regular lives, before yet another ten day festival begins - yes, in just another 16 days, it will be time for Navaratri! And yes, we are counting the days again!
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  1. Beautiful words Anu. A tearful farewell is given to Him.
    And Navratri starts in 15 days, not 18, please check.

  2. Great coverage Anu!

    Yesterday saw a news clipping of a balcony full of people crashing down! :(

  3. I love that topi on the truck! Thanks Anu! Was telling S over b'fast this morning about the event Anant Chaturdashi is for every kid in Maharashtra!

  4. Thanks Indrani! yeah,. we saw that too... really sad, that too to happen at such a time :(

  5. i loved that too!! their creativity seemed at a great pitch this year! and we really wished u were there... might have explored a bit more!


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