Experience ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ celebrations in Jaipur!

Can you still find your roots in a city where you were just born but never lived? Here I am, more than three decades after being born in this beautiful city called Jaipur, trying to discover its land & by-lanes, memorize its countless darwazas and make sense of this incredible chaos and these colours which are all around me.

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As I wonder as to where to begin cracking this maze, very aptly and like a divine sign ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ pops up on the Calendar. After all, every new endeavor in India starts with dear Lord Ganesha. So this was perfect. Almost as soon as I thought perfect, I wondered aloud to all and sundry, why were we actually celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi here in Jaipur, a festival to my knowledge mostly associated with Maharashtra. Maybe this was not a sign, after all?

As I walk up the ramp to Moti Doongri (small pearl on a hill) temple to find such answers, I see the beautiful Moti Doongri fort almost floating above the temple answering some of them. The section itself is beautiful. Abutting the main Road, the road ramps up to the temple built on a 2 Square Km plane, with the green hillock rising up in the background and the fort perched high above. Dating back to the 18th century, this 255-year-old temple was constructed by Seth Jai Ram Paliwal and the King of Mewar (idol).This famous temple, Garh Ganesh and their centuries old traditions is why Ganesh Chaturthi is such a revered and famous festival here in Jaipur.

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As I reach the temple steps through the complex, I am surprised to find that a stage has been set up right in front of the temple. The explanation – As Lord Ganesh is supremely fond of music, fine arts and the performing arts he will be invoked by Classical Singers from Jaipur and Gwalior in a Dhrupad Sabha in the evening. This itself was exciting. But first the ‘Aarti’.

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As the sun hits the last note of the day and sets, the dusk envelopes the city. From the brightly lit halogen lamps outside to the oil lit lamps inside the temple, the world seemed to have come to some mystical apparent agreement. With the clanging silver bell in the Chief Mahant’s hands in sync with the 6 brass bells at the entrance, the bright orange hue of the brightly lit lamp for the aarti , the ‘Nobat’ on the gallery above with its deep reverberating beats , the fragrant waft of the incense mixed with the marigold flowers and the peaceful faces of those praying inside, I sat mesmerized through the powerful aarti. On cue, as the aarti got over, almost instantly the Dhrupad Sabha started.

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A city steeped deep in its culture and roots, this was the distinct flavor to experience and savor. I had heard (or tried not to hear the Bhajans and Kirtans) of the usual kind in most temples /cities and not been too impressed ever so far to sit through them. This was something else. Enthralled as the evening progressed Lord Ganesha, the audience and I were treated to a spellbinding performance by various talented classical singers in Raag Yaman, Maulkans and Bhairavi in ‘Stuti of Lord Ganesha’. With the Pakhawaj accompanying the singers at such fervor and tempo, in between it seemed almost as if the gods too had descended on this earth to be a part of the festivities and celebrations. I was equally exhilarated and surprised to have experienced my first cultural mouthful of this city. This was Jaipur just warming up to usher in Ganesh Chaturthi in a way I hadn’t experienced before.

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This is not all, the festivities actually started on 30th august itself and will go on until the 6th of September. The Panchamrit Abhishek and the thousands of ladoos ( of some weighing 251 kgs) have already been offered to Lord Ganesha since then. Up ahead are Kathak Performance (Jaipur Gharana) by Kathak Kala Kendra , the Mehedi/ Shinjhara Jhanki of lord Ganesha , Janmotsav on the 5th followed by the Shobha Yatra which will go through the ‘Parkota’, on to Garh Ganesh. Visarjan will take place at the ‘Maota’ lake in front of the Amer Fort on the 6th of September.

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Indeed, the way Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in Jaipur is truly Special.

30.08.2016 : Panchamrit Abhishek of Ganeshji

31.08.2016 : Modak Jhanki / Shastriya

01.09.2016 : Dhrupad Gaayan

02.09.2016 : Kathak performance by Kathak Kala Kendra

03.09.2016 : Kathak performance by Kathak Kala Kendra

04.09.2016 : Mehendi Jhaanki / Shinjhara

05.09.2016 : Janmotsav

06. 09.2016 : Jhaankiyan from Moti Doongri Ganesh temple till Garh Ganesh

Artists: Parsram Nehar on Harmonium, Ajay Choudhary on Taanpura, Dr Praveen Arya on Pakhawaj, Bhupendra Singh Aggarwal, Khushaal Nanda, Lakshya, Varun Jain, Lalit Dewra,  Jyotsna, Ajay Choudhary and Shri Abhijeet Sukhdaane.

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Blog Courtesy: Tanushree Gulati,  Planner, Philosopher, passionate writer, a foodie and a traveler.

(For countless years, Ahmadabad had been her muse and now Delhi for over 14 years now. She understands people and psyches through its art, culture, history, food and its flavors. This overlap of the old and the new and its paradoxes really fascinates her.)

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