The days of yore

The days of yore

Those were the days of living parsimoniously on a shoe-string budget

A few weeks ago, en route to Mantralaya, a quaint little holy village on the Karnataka-Andhra border, our car was forcefully stopped several times in the village precinct by young boys who blocked the road with a tight rope. They asked us for money for the preparation of the upcoming Ganesha festival.  “Only if you pay us will the rope go down” was the message of the day. The car froze in its tracks but my mind went into a rewind mode.  

Our excitement knew no bounds a week before Ganesh Chathurthi. To select the right idol that depicted the Lord in his fullest glory was a tall task that needed to be ticked off. To erect the pandal in order to temporarily house the idol was another. We had to secure bamboo poles at calculated distances on our street and the tie-up them up with ropes to create a frame.  When this was complete, our next focus was to build a stable platform to put the idol on.

Later the beautification of the idol and the platform had to begin. We had limited material available; innovation was of prime essence. An adjacent platform had to be put up to arrange and stock flowers and prasadam. Another slightly lower platform had to act as a dais for artists to perform to an audience. A seating arrangement for 50 people needed to be made.

We turned to the elders in the community to seek their guidance. What followed was a three-day programme with pooja and prayers in the morning time, and an evening pooja followed by a cultural program. Our neighbourhood families came together to get many tasks accomplished. An uncle agreed to don the priest avatar to perform a pooja. This helped to ensure timely pooja and reduced our costs. Children from various families were asked to showcase their talent.

Now came the crux of this preparation, an aunt who worked in a bank came forward to manage funds. The crowd-funded money with a door-to-door collection in the two-three months before was an onerous task. Receipts were issued for the smallest of contributions and the donors got invites.

The visarjana was on last day’s evening agenda. A vehicle had to carry the idol to its destination. All this we accomplished as a bunch of middle-school and high-school children who came together approximately 40 years ago in Mysore. Those were the times of parsimonious living on a shoe-string budget. We derived pleasure in celebrating this festival an intent to bring the community together.  

We may not have any pictures from the day but we have many beautiful pictures etched in our memories.