The annual Onam Celebrations concluded in Trivandrum on September 16th with a carnival of floats and cultural performances which flowed down M.G. Road from Kowdiar to East Fort, a spectacular sight not seen for many a year.
While the people were out in force to witness the cultural extravaganza, the attendance at a procession the very previous day was dismal in comparison. This was when a tradition of Maharastra was grotesquely replicated in Kerala for what can be at best called mysterious reasons. I am referring to the most recent fad in the religious calendar of Trivandrum and Kerala - the Ganeshotsav, the puja of and later immersion of idols of the Hindu God Ganesh.
One can question the basis of this new "tradition" on the very fact it is an alien tradition which has no precedent in the culture of Kerala or the sheer nuisance it creates to life in a major city. I am sure if someone proposed that we start celebrating Pongal with the vigour of our neighbours or the Festival of the Great Kahuna with the reverence shown by the inhabitants on some remote Polynesian island, it would be rejected with a laugh. Why then, a replication of a thoroughly Maharastrian custom all of a sudden? And it does create a nuisance to everyone, with idols ranging from medium to jumbo size, pardon the pun, taking up scarce space on the sidewalks and roads of the bustling city. The fact that there was hardly ever a soul at any of these idols is a sure sign of the fabricated nature of this so-called festival, as opposed to the throngs one usually finds around Durga Puja pandals in Kolkata or even Ganeshas of the same ilk in Mumbai. Add to this the mess created at the beach when the idols emulate the mythical lemmings.
However the main reason that this mass hara-kiri of the Ganeshas is a disturbing trend for the city lies in its organiser. If the Nazi Party started functioning in today's Jerusalem, I am sure there would be more than a minor stir among the local populace. However, an organisation born on an anti-Madrasi plank, which cut its teeth through violence against South Indians, including Keralites, and their establishments in Mumbai has been functioning in our midst for years and not many eyelids have been batted over it. The Shiv-Sena has been in Trivandrum and Kerala for many years now, best known for their fleet of ambulances plying in the city. The Sena began as a regionalist organisation which promised to throw out migrants including our brethren from the hard-earned jobs and to give them to Marathis. How ironic that they are proliferating in Kerala, and not many seem to be bothered by it. Even more ironic is that they have chosen to use Lord Ganesh as their brand ambassador and propogation medium, "Ganesha is also a secular god as other faiths have no misgivings about him!", is what one worthy of the party has to say. Somehow, the words "Trojan Horse" keep ringing in the background on hearing that.
Some of you might be wondering why I have embarked on a sudden vendetta against Lord Ganesh? Lol, I have nothing against everyone's favorite transgenic God. In fact, he and I share the same star or something but as I usually write about steps we take forward in the long road of progress, I think I should also mention once in while those steps which are taken in the reverse direction. And there is no better example for the latter than the invasion we recently witnessed.