Senior Bollywood actress Padmini Kolhapure is one of the few Maharashtrian stars in showbiz and over the years, she has made sure to remain connected to her roots. Just like every year, this year too, she celebrated the festival of Ganeshotsav with her vast family and the bonhomie is one-of-a-kind in B-Town.
In a candid chat with The Free Press Journal, Padmini shares her Ganeshotsav traditions, the importance of eco-friendly idols, significance of the festival for her, and more. Excerpts:
What are your childhood memories of celebrating Ganeshotsav?
My earliest childhood memories are from when we lived in Chinchpokli. We used to go in a truck to get our Ganpatis from Girgaon. Numerous families with idols of varying sizes used to get into one truck and get Bappa home. Later, when we moved to Juhu in a housing society, we used to roam around and visit everyone's house in groups, singing aartis with full enthusiasm. Some or the other family would host a dinner every day, and we made sure to not miss out on the feast.
During the visarjan, even though we had Bappa at our place for only one-and-a-half days, we used to go to the beach with other families who hosted the Lord for five, seven or 10 days. The entire community celebrated the festival like one big family.
How did you celebrate Ganeshotsav this year?
For the past couple of years, I have stopped bringing Ganpati Bappa at my house since I lost my parents and there are too many emotions attached to it. So we now welcome Bappa at my sister's house. The idol is brought there but the bhog still happens at my house. This year too, the entire family gathered at my place and we worshipped the Ganpati which is already there in my house's temple and then we feasted on scrumptious Maharashtrian food together.
Which are your favourite pandals to visit in Mumbai?
Of course, Lalbaugcha Raja, and we have a connection to the GSB Ganeshotsav in Wadala since my mother was a Saraswat. We also visit the GSB Seva Mandal Ganpati in Matunga. Additionally, I go to the Pandurang Society Ganeshotsav in Juhu every year without fail. It's my old housing society and I've been going there ever since we moved out.
Which is your favourite place to eat modak from and favourite food items you enjoy during the festival?
We had this typical menu for almost 50 years. We made sevai kheer, puris and potatoes, and a traditional Maharashtrian dish with all kinds of vegetables and corn, and people would visit our house to eat just that. On Day 2 of Ganeshotsav, we make this dish called Rushichi Bhaji, a mixed vegetable preparation again, and we even parcel it for all our relatives. That's a speciality.
As for modaks, I love the ones made at my place. We make 21 modaks at home every year, which we serve to Bappa, and the rest, we get from outside.
Why do you think is it important to have an eco-friendly Ganesha idol?
Eco-friendly Ganpati idols should be the only option today. I have been living by the beach all my life now and I remember, every morning after Ganeshotsav, we used to go to the beach and see damaged, broken idols floating around. It is a very painful sight and it's disrespectful to the Lord. Most importantly, not getting eco-friendly idols is ruining our environment in ways we cannot repair. We cannot be so selfish. Eco-friendly idols are the least we can do for future generations. We owe it to them, and someone has to take the first step.
What did you pray for this year?
I don't really pray or ask God for anything. It's more of gratitude and apology. We all need to collectively apologise to the Lord for what we are doing to humanity and the environment. God gave us this planet and the resources and we are just busy ruining it, without thinking about the consequences. I also thanked Bappa for this life and for everything that he gave me and keeps giving even before I ask for it.
What is your favourite part about this festival?
The fact that Ganeshotsav is more like a community festival. People can openly visit each other's place and pray, eat and laugh together. This is the only festival when the doors of a household are open for everyone. You can just walk in and you will be welcomed with open arms. There are some people whom you get to meet at least once a year despite the busy schedules, thanks to Ganeshotsav. It's like an annual ritual of coming together and sharing our joys!