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.
Actress Ishita Dutta, best known for playing the role of Ajay Devgn's daughter in Drishyam, celebrated her first Ganesh Chaturthi with her son Vaayu this year. It was a double celebration for Ishita and her actor-husband Vatsal Sheth as their baby boy turned two months old on the auspicious occasion. In an exclusive interview with The Free Press Journal, Ishita opens up about celebrating the festival in an eco-friendly way and her earliest Ganeshotsav memories. Excerpts:
What are your earliest memories of Ganeshotsav?
My earliest memories are from the time I shifted to Mumbai from Jamshedpur. First year, during the final visarjan day, I remember I took an auto-rickshaw from Juhu and I was stuck in traffic for hours. I had no idea aisa hota hai. But even though I was stuck, I think it was the best experience as I did not crib and I really enjoyed it. I saw people wearing matching outfits and girls and boys were grooving to the beats of dhol. It was a beautiful sight to see. I saw proper visarjan for the very first time and that is my earliest memory associated with Ganeshotsav.
What is your favourite part of this festival?
My favourite part is visiting each other's homes and celebrating for 10 days. It's a celebration where people meet and greet each other and spend time with each other. Ganpati is not celebrated on such a large scale in Jamshedpur. So, for me, it was something very new when I came to Mumbai. Here, everybody is so busy with their lives and work. So, the festival gives a chance to meet and interact with people.
What are your plans for this year?
This year, we'll celebrate Ganpati at home. It's Vaayu's first Ganpati so we're inviting close friends and family members. We are very excited. I also made an eco-friendly Ganesh idol like I do every year. The idol which we brought home was also eco-friendly. Every year, we celebrate on a small scale but this year it's a bigger celebration.
Which are your favourite pandals to visit in Mumbai?
Honestly, ever since I've come to Mumbai, I've mostly visited people's houses as all my friends and relatives welcome Bappa home. So the first few days I'm just visiting everyone's homes, we're constantly going from one house to another. In terms of pandals, I've visited Lalbaugcha Raja a couple of times and the ones near my building.
Which is your favourite place to eat modak from and which food items you enjoy during the festival?
Everybody knows that I love modak and a lot of people send them to me, especially ukadiche modak. I remember, last year, when we were shooting, I got to eat a lot of modaks as everyone brought from their homes everyday. This year, I'm not shooting so I'll definitely tell my friends to get some for me. I also tried making modaks at home once but they weren't as great as others make in the proper traditional way.
Why is it important to have an eco-friendly Ganesha idol?
Very important. I say this every year. In fact, I've noticed that the production of eco-friendly Ganesh idols have increased now. 10 years back, there were not many options but now as the demand is increasing, people are switching from normal idols to eco-friendly ones. Maybe there'll be a point where people will only use eco-friendly idols. I recently got one which is made only from paper. So it's good for the environment. You can do the visarjan at home and you don't have to go to the water body. I understand it's a very sentimental thing but I urge people to make that switch, especially those who bring Bappa home. If everybody makes that switch then it's really going to impact the environment.
What would you pray for this year?
I would pray for good health for my little one, my family members and friends. Everything in life comes and goes but health is the most important thing. Everyday, I only pray for health and happiness.