By Sarita Deshpande
On Sunday September 12th ISW's very own Shrewsbury Ganeshotsav Mandal (SGM) team celebrated Ganesh Festival with lots of enthusiasm and vigor, for the tenth year in a row. Ganesh festival is mainly celebrated in Maharashtra, where its public festival form was first introduced by the leading freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak in his hometown of Pune. With the spread of Marathi speakers across India, the Ganesh festival is now celebrated outside Maharashtra too. People celebrate and follow the tradition fondly in various parts of the world.
This year's festival at ISW had many significant highlights. First and foremost, it was held in the newly renovated India Center. Second highlight was the hand-made three and half feet Ganesh idol. It was made out of eco-friendly clay, by local artist Shrikant Savant. Shrikant along with his wife Sapna and daughter Urvi spent umpteen days in July and August to create this beautiful idol. The devotees who came marvelled at the grace and beauty of the idol with much appreciation.
The pooja, aarti in the morning was performed by Guruji Shrikant Joshi which was telecast live on the ISW Facebook page and followed by a cultural program. The event was held in a hybrid mode to limit the in-person attendance, in accordance with covid guidelines.
The theme of the event was folk art (लोककला) of Maharashtra. In conjunction with the theme, the local artists had made a beautiful backdrop of various folk arts of Maharashtra in picture form. One more highlight from the cultural program entertainment by Music 18 group from India. It also included an interview of popular Marathi and Hindi celebrity couple and Hindi actors, Ashok Saraf and Nivedita Joshi Saraf.
The third highlight of the event was the Dhol-Tasha. The team played the instruments (specially ordered from India) in a procession with many others dancing and rejoicing to the rhythm. The air was filled with energy and a lot of enthusiasm just like the festival back in India. From the older generation to young kids everyone enjoyed the music and participated in the celebration fever wholeheartedly. The afternoon entertainment program was broadcast live where local artists performed various dances and songs to highlight ten different local folk arts.
All in all, it was a very colorful celebration with pooja, prasad, entertainment program, decorations and food, and the added grandeur of the newly renovated India Center. Everyone who attended the program enjoyed it thoroughly. The fruitful completion left all very satisfied, especially the volunteers who had planned the event for months.
The Shrewsbury Ganeshotsav Mandal Team consists of Ashok Kale, Atul Deshpande, Durgesh Warty, Govind Dindore, Manjiri Patil, Priya Vaidya, Sakshi Gurao, Sarita Deshpande, Shrikant Savant, Vishakha Khamankar, and Yatin Manjrekar.
You can view the video of the cultural program and the pooja on the ISW Facebook page.