In 2009, Sidharth Malhotra moved to Mumbai from Delhi to chase his dreams of becoming an actor. That same year, during Ganeshotsav, he witnessed the “energy and dedication” of the people of Mumbai for the festival, for the first time.
“Before that, I had seen visarjans only in movies. During my first Ganpati in the city, I was crossing Juhu beach, and I wanted to see the visarjan. My friend told me that I wouldn’t be able to see anything, but still, I went there, and saw a huge crowd, chanting mantras, and even playing with colours while immersing the idols in the sea,” he says. At an exclusive shoot for HT Café, Sidharth talks about his connection with Lord Ganesha.
Are you religious?
Not so much, especially now. And this is because I don’t live with my family anymore, and I don’t get the time to do all the rituals. But I have a small temple in my house in Mumbai. My family is quite religious. In Delhi, when my grandmother was alive, she made sure I sat for the puja. She used to make all the children in the house, including me, chant and memorise the Gayatri Mantra and the Hanuman Chalisa.
What are your earliest memories of Ganeshotsav?
When I moved to Mumbai, I found the festival to be very upscale (smiles). It was almost like I had watched a small-scale film become a big-budget movie. Everything — be it the idols or the set-up — was bigger in Mumbai. Most importantly, the music became louder. It was interesting, since the scene was different from what it is in Delhi. It was a great cultural change.
You don’t belong to Maharashtra. So, were you taken aback by the intensity with which the festival is celebrated here?
The intensity and the fervour definitely came as a surprise. Delhi celebrates Ganeshotsav on a smaller scale. The scale here is much bigger. Every small colony has a Ganpati pandal. The visarjan process is elaborate too.
What does this festival mean to you?
We all seek Lord Ganesha’s blessings before starting anything auspicious. When I was struggling in Mumbai, my grandmother and my mother told me, “Get a Ganpati idol for your house. Your work will start.” I was not getting work at that time. I think most strugglers have had a great connect with Lord Ganesha (laughs). The first-ever idol that I bought was of Lord Ganesha. It is still in my house. He stands for everything that is new and auspicious.
Your film will release during Ganeshotsav. Does that make the festival more special?
Yes, it is exciting, and I hope I am blessed by Lord Ganesha. It is an auspicious week, and it has happened by chance. During this occasion, one feels a lot of positive energy, mentally and emotionally.
Since you are busy promoting your film, how do you plan to celebrate the festival this year?
The original plan was to visit my friends’ houses in Mumbai. But, I am in Delhi at the moment, promoting my film. So, I am missing out on the pujas. However, when I am back, I will visit a temple, and do a small puja at the temple in my house.