With the fourth edition of FPJ's Eco Ganesha Awards around the corner, celebrities share why it is important to keep the festival environment-friendly.
Actor Shreyas Talpade has been currently enjoying the best phase of his career as the star has his hands full with projects, not just in Bollywood, but in the Marathi film industry as well. And now, as Ganeshotsav kickstarts from September 19, Tuesday, Shreyas has decided to take some time off from work and spend his entire time with his family, serving the Lord for his blessings.
In a candid chat with The Free Press Journal, Shreyas revealed his plans for Ganeshotsav 2023, his childhood memories, favourite moments, and more. Excerpts:
What are your childhood memories of celebrating Ganeshotsav?
As a kid, our Ganpati celebrations used to happen at my uncle's house in Girgaon, Mumbai. The entire family used to gather for the next two days, it used to be a packed house. We all did the puja and sang aartis together, and relished lots of sweets and modaks. The visarjan used to be extra special. We all used to keep chanting, "Ganpati Bappa Morya, pudhchya varshi lavkar ya", and immerse the Lord at Girgaon Chowpatty. I miss all of that, but life goes on, and so do we.
What are your plans for this year?
It's been quite a few years that we are celebrating Ganeshotsav at my place now. We bring home Bappa a day earlier and then, a lot of puja and aartis happen. Friends and family members visit my house and for those couple of days, I don't work at all. I try to keep my phone aside and we all just immerse ourselves in the devotion for Ganpati Bappa and pray for his blessings and love.
Which are your favourite pandals to visit in Mumbai?
Being a Mumbaikar, we all have a lot of fond memories associated with these huge pandals, the biggest ones being Ganesh Galli, Lalbaugcha Raja, GSB Wadala, among others. But apart from these, there is one which is my favourite, called Abhinav Mitra Mandal Ganpati. It is special because it was started by all youngsters, my elder brother being one of them. I still go there every year. Each pandal has its own unique qualities and there is a lot of faith associated with the Ganpati Bappas over there. I just love the vibe the city has around that time.
Which is your favourite place to eat modak from and favourite food items you enjoy during the festival?
My favourite place to eat modak during Ganpati is my own home. My mom, mother-in-law, and wife make some outstanding modaks, and I prefer eating those at home. Apart from that, I've always enjoyed home-cooked food, especially the traditional dishes made during the festival. I am not a big time foodie but I am a sucker for home-cooked food.
Why is it important to have an eco-friendly Ganesha idol?
The scale of Ganpati celebrations has gone up drastically, and since the past few years, we have been seeing what happens to the Plaster of Paris idols of Bappa once they are immersed. We, as a family, have always gotten home clay idols which easily dissolve in water. It is important to have that sense and awareness to make sure that the ecosystem is not disturbed and we do not destroy the sanctity of the idol or the festival. Plus, we cannot give our future generations a planet that is inhabitable. We should celebrate but not at the cost of mother nature.
What would you pray for this year?
Prayers never really stop. These two days are for serving the Lord to the best of one's abilities. We pray for health and happiness. It is important that we also pray for wisdom from Bappa, who is the Lord of wisdom himself. We must ask Bappa to bestow us with some of his wisdom so that we become responsible citizens.
What is your favourite part about this festival?
I love the way everyone celebrates the festival, especially in a place like Mumbai, where people from different faiths and beliefs come together and participate irrespective of the differences. There are people who may not be Hindus but even then, they welcome Ganpati Bappa at their homes. There were times when Mumbai was going through a rough patch because of the riots, but despite that, the festival was celebrated as a tradition. Lalbaugcha Raja has a specific route which goes through a Muslim-dominated area, but everybody forgot everything and came together to make sure that the procession happened smoothly. This kind of peace and togetherness that the Lord brings along with him is something we need to learn. We just forget all the animosity and come together and celebrate Bappa. When you see Him, you just forget everything else.
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