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Pandals, this season’s hangouts

People witnessing the cultural programmes Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

People witnessing the cultural programmes Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury  

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Vinayaka Chavithi festivities aren’t just about prayers and prasadam, they’re great for community bonding as well

HYDERABAD: This is an age where people connect more through social media than in person. A meme that says we know more about our friends settled abroad than about our next door neighbours certainly rings true. Festivals and celebrations fill that lacuna by providing occasions for people to meet and greet each other in our respective neighbourhoods. Vinayaka Chavithi is one such festival that reinforces the community bond and give everyone a chance to update on the happenings in our lives.

A quick look at Instagram shows how families of celebrities in Mumbai are going on late night visits to different pandals braving the festival traffic and giving their regular work schedules a break.

So much so that calling Ganesh pandals the most sought-after venues for hangouts for families and friends within the localities wouldn’t be an exaggeration.

While some communities (whether in apartments complexes or townships) like to involve decorators to do up the community halls, common landings or other designated spots where the elephant-headed God is installed, some colonies and associations feel the very act of doing up the place itself ushers in a nice bonhomie.

“That gives them a wonderful chance to discuss their interests and plan things together. While women take the lead when it comes to doing up the stage where the idol is installed, the men take care of stage elevation, buying the raw materials and arranging the illumination and so on. We also leave the choice of making prasadam to the residents and as a result we get a wide variety,” says Prasad Reddy of Marredpally. Residents of the apartment along with the other individual houses get together and do a common puja, a perfect opportunity to get to know their neighbours better.

In Lanco Hills, the celebrations are big. To make this common holiday a day to remember, apart from the regular puja, lunch and meet up, there are cultural programmes put up by the children of Lanco Hills residents. “Busy schedules hardly leave us with the time to catch up with what is happening. We do get regular updates about our association but that isn’t personal. It is nice to meet people outside work, outside the common family circles. It also gives us an opportunity to know when our neighbours need anything and how we can participate as a community in the real sense of the term,” says Vaishnavi P, who recently shifted to Lanco Hills.

Community celebrations are a common platform where we can help our neighbours forget their worries and relax for sometime. “In our colony, right from planing to execution, everything is done by the women. The women take charge and they create a great event out of this. Last year they organised a small event with traditional music where the ladies who know to sing, took turns to be the performer of the evening. Those are the days when I feel like staying back home and planning what to wear for the evening for an event which doesn't involve me booking cabs, sharing a ride with my friends or having to worry about a late-night,” says Chitra Prasad of Malkajgiri.

In Raghavendra Hills the festivities brighten up the atmosphere, literally. “With lights lined up in the colony, it builds up the mood. Also every morning there are the prayers followed by prasadam. Last year, there was a session where slokas were explained by the pandit to the young. Our children also take part in cultural events. It is a good platform to initiate them into community bonding, shedding stage-fright. Finally the Nimajjan is fun, with residents hopping into each other’s cars, singing songs all the way to the place where the idol is immersed,” says a resident.

A recent craze in Ganesh festivities is of breaking a matka with a stick. The event that’s attracting the young and old alike, has DJs belting out fusion devotional songs.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2019 10:32:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Pandals-this-season%E2%80%99s-hangouts/article14628527.ece

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