Ganeshotsav Special: How it started?

It was in 1893, freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak started public Ganeshotsav (सार्वज़्नीक गणेशोत्सव) as a mean to unite people against the Britishers. Before that it was celebrated only as a family festival. The public celebrations also had people perform and various artists showing their talent.

Its more than 100 years now and things have changed a lot. In old days, small amount of money (वर्गनी) used to be collected from all and every thing was managed in that. Local people used to work hard, set some play and perform. But now its all commercialization happening. Money comes as sponsorship, people are forced to give more and more money and professionals from outside are invited to perform. The decoration is awesome but very costly. Things are also being controlled by the political parties or underworld.

I remember, back in late 1980s, when I was a kid, Ganeshotsav used to be all fun. When I was in 4th std, in Nagpur, I participated in a play as a lead character. The play used to involve all the small children of our locality and hence the play of 5 characters used to have at least 30 performers. Used to be all fun. Each dialogue being split into one sentence by one kid. Being all kids zone, the whole locality used to enjoy it. On the last day, we also got the consolation prize for participation. I even danced with a girl who was in 7th std. That was my first and last dance performance in public.

Next year I moved to a new locality and it was the first time our locality was having Ganeshotsav. All happy moments, I did well in most of the competitions: sports, literature etc. I used to be a start performer there in my age group and used to very happy on the last day to get so many prizes.

It was only in my first year of engineering that I got an opportunity to handle the sports division, which included all the competitions right from sports, to literature, to cultural. I still remember fighting with my elders, double my age, on an issue about giving first prize to two people who have got equal marks by the judges or arbitrarily giving one person the first and the other second. As the budget was low, every year they used to give only one first prize and of course then you can choose who can be the first. I made sure that the prizes are given to both the participants with no partiality. The end result: people felt that justice was done to their talent and there was no result which was managed, as used to be previously. I was happy that I was part of the system cleaning process in a small way.

Those were my first lessons of organization skills and I cherish them a lot.

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