A month after hosting a big Eid celebration, Galaxy apartments in Bandra, home to Salman Khan and his family, is buzzing with Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations today.
Even as you read this, all the members of the Khan family are participating in the religious rituals centered around Lord Ganesha. This is the 11th year that the elephant-headed God, the remover of all obstacles, is visiting their home.
“We brought in Lord Ganesha 11 years ago because Arpita (Salman’s little sister) insisted,” says Salma Khan, their mother. “She was very keen and took it upon herself to organise every detail of the festival. As she promised, she has been organising it single-handedly every year since then.”
In this modern Muslim home, a very secular atmosphere exists, as Hinduism, Islam and Christianity co-exist here happily, thanks to the efforts of Marathi-Brahmin Salma Khan (originally Sushila Charak), her husband Salim Khan and his second wife Helen, who is Catholic.
Earlier, when the Khans did not celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi at home, Salman, brothers Arbaaz and Sohail and sister Alvira would be taken to their aaji’s (maternal grandmother’s) home in Mahim for the festivities.
“In the evenings, I would dress up the kids and go to my mother’s house so the children could celebrate with our neighbours there,” Salma recollects fondly.
Her daughter Alvira, married to filmmaker Atul Agnihotri, recalls her childhood memories of the festival. “Though it wasn’t celebrated at home, Ganpati was great fun. Salman bhai, Arbaaz bhai, Sohail and I would run down the street to join the Ganpati processions that would halt before our house. We would participate in the aarti dance,” laughs Alvira.
Today, she and her younger sister Arpita have become extremely devoted to Ganesha. They sometimes even walk barefoot to the Siddhivinayak Temple situated in Prabhadevi on Tuesdays.
In the one-and-a-half days that Ganesha resides in Galaxy, the religious rules of the festival are strictly adhered to.
Non-vegetarian food and alcohol are banned. Instead, the kitchen turns out delicacies like modak, masale bhaat, puri and aloo bhaji, vatlidal, pitthi and chana usal. “I love cooking and feeding people,” says Salma. “During Ganpati and Eid, I work in the kitchen with the assistance of my cooks.”
Salman, who has taken a two-day break from the shooting of Dabangg 2 in Satara, joins us, looking fresh after a rigorous workout and shower. “I feel blessed to be born and brought up in a house that respects every religion,” says the actor.
“The credit goes to mom, dad and Helen aunty. In Galaxy, God is one, though our paths to reach the almighty are different.”
In fact, all paths to God are open, if you take Salma as an example. Though she adopted Islam after marrying Salim, she did not let go of her faith: “I offer namaaz every day and recite the Quran verses just as I do my pujas and recite the Gayatri Mantra and the Hanuman Chalisa,” she explains. “On Wednesdays, we used to go to the church for Novena prayers as well. Choosing their faith is something we left to the children. However, Salim miya and I have taught them the basics of all the religions.”
LATEST BUZZ ON SALMAN KHAN
‘When I get married, I’m not calling anybody'
Those who thought Salman Khan would one day have a big fat wedding, with all the Bollywood A-listers in attendance, here is a shocker. The sharp-tongued actor has revealed he may not call anyone for his own wedding. When asked if he will be attending actors Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor’s wedding on October 16 this year, Salman said, “Since I haven’t got an invitation yet, I don’t think it’s (the wedding) happening (smiles). I’ll know it’s happening only when I get an invite. Weddings are a personal, private matter. When I get married, I don’t think I’m calling anybody.”
Salman Khan joins Facebook, gets over 2 mn likes already
After many celebs like Amitabh Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar took to Facebook, it is now Salman Khan's turn to join Facebook. As the Dabagg actor joined the social networking site, he gave a sneak peek into the chain of Being Human stores opening in October. The actor's Facebook page went live Friday morning and has already got 2.6 million likes.
OVER THE YEARS: Salman Khan over the years
From the boy next door to a bad boy and now someone who is being very human, here’s tracing Salman Khan’s eventful journey, a part of our special series on Bollywood's A-listers' evolution over the years. FULL STORY
(With additional inputs)