By Vijay Darda | 12-09-2016
Ganeshotsav which once was confined to Maharashtra has today become popular all over the country. Besides Maharashtra, other states have also adopted Ganeshotsav with equal enthusiasm. This 11-day festival is reaching the last stage of celebration. This is the right time to take stock of the relevance of the festival initiated by Lokmanya Tilak and how the society is carrying forward the legacy handed down by the great leader by trying to make it all the more popular.
The situation in the country, when the festival started, was totally different. The main objective of Tilak was to mobilise public opinion against foreign rule and use the festival as a medium to create social awareness. Since the country has become free, half of the objective has been achieved. But the objective of creating awareness in the society remains unfulfilled. However, creating awareness in the society is not the task of one man, it requires an organised effort. People should sink their individual differences to achieve this great task. Someone will have to take the initiative and once the initiative is taken, all the sections of the society will have to come forward to accept the challenge and take it forward. An excellent example is that of Lokmat which started Ticha Ganpat (‘Her’ Ganapati). Lokmat started this project in Pune where Lokmanya Tilak had launched the festival decades back. Now, other cities of Maharashtra have also accepted the concept. There is no doubt that in due course of time, the concept of ‘Her’ Ganapati festival will catch on and create an independent identity of this great festival.
But this is not easy and smooth. Many had directly opposed the Lokmat project and thumbed their noses at the idea. Many questioned the concept and intention. The intense opposition to all-women Ganapati mandal stemmed from the male-dominated mentality that looks down upon women as weak and denies them the equal right to worship God. But Lokmat went straight ahead and set the new convention allowing women to breathe free and worship everyone’s favourite deity. There has been an overwhelming response to the ‘Her’ Ganapati in Pune. Indian women who have won medals at the Rio Olympics were inspired by Ganeshotsav and women’s excellent performance in the sports arena once again stressed the fact that women exemplify power and that they are second to none. By organising a grand ‘Shobhayatra’ and street plays, the Ganapati mandal has created a social awakening on the empowerment of women. Another interesting fact was that women from all walks of life, right from sports personalities to simple housewives participated in the festival. But is this enough? Unfortunately no. The reason is that male dominance still continues to hold sway in the society.
Ganesh or Gajanan is considered the foremost among Gods and that is why he has the first claim of worship. But do women enjoy the right to worship? Actually, every divine and human being has come out of the womb of woman but the story of Ganpati is an example of intense love of mother and it is inalienably associated with the women power. But is the society aware of this fact? Lord Ganpati was so fond of his mother that he readied himself to fight his father, but how many people who consider themselves to be devotees of Ganpati rush to the defence of the helpless woman being dishonoured in front of them? Girls are molested in streets, they are attacked with acid, stalked and raped, but where do those who dance with gay abandon during the festivals disappear at such times? If social reformists get the support of law, the pace of reformation increases. It was with this intention that the child marriage Act and dowry prohibition Act came into existence. To end social inequality and caste discrimination, government adopted the policy of encouraging inter-caste marriages. But the reality is far from it. We find that even now child marriages take place, grooms demand dowry and even after getting huge dowry, women are tortured by their in-laws. And those who go for inter-caste marriage are murdered in the name of ‘ honour killing’.
Shri Ganesh is a harbinger of happiness and destroyer of evil. He is the remover of obstacles and misfortune. But that does not mean that we should remain passive. We need to think positively and believe that good will happen even in the most hopeless situation. We need to put in the necessary efforts as well. This noble intention of social change lies behind Lokmat’s ‘Her’ Ganeshotsav. We have made a small beginning in the direction of changing the mentality of the society towards women. We are sure that the Lord of Wisdom will instill this kind of wisdom in every head.
Before I conclude…
The journey of Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev who is known to the whole world as the proponent of yoga is astonishing to say the least. His spectacular success in the field of business and industry is simply eye-popping. He transformed the herbs and barks — about which the ancient Indian texts speak so eloquently– into medicines that are curing millions of their ailments. He ferreted out the ancient remedies and converted them into medical formulations. Patanjali brand has evolved over the last few years to catch the national imagination and he has taken the brand to dizzying heights in no time. Patanjali is dominating the FMCG market today and it has posed a challenge to the multinational companies which had dominated the space so far. It remains to be seen whether Baba Ramdev will cause the multinational companies to flee India as he so confidently asserts. That only time will tell. But let us welcome his big time investment in Maharashtra.