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A festival that binds all communities

Like many of their neighbours, this ordinary eight-member family from Shivaji Park has already booked its Ganesh idol, and is now waiting eagerly to welcome the Lord home when Ganeshotsav begins on September 1. Aarefa Johari reports.

mumbai Updated: Aug 24, 2011 01:08 IST
Aarefa Johari

Like many of their neighbours, this ordinary eight-member family from Shivaji Park has already booked its Ganesh idol, and is now waiting eagerly to welcome the Lord home when Ganeshotsav begins on September 1.

However, the family of businessmen, Mahinder and Harbans Singh, are Sikhs. In a city where Ganeshotsav is one of the most widely celebrated festivals, the Singhs are among the several non-Hindus who ardently believe in Lord Ganesh.

They have been bringing home a Ganpati idol for the past eight years.

“Our family does not believe that only one religion must be worshipped, and I have had shraddha (faith) in Ganeshji for the past 24 years,” said Mahinder Singh, 43, who decided to celebrate the ten-day festival at home after the Lord miraculously cured his wife of a long-term illness. “Our belief is not at odds with our religion, so it would not disturb us if anybody objects.”

Pervin Saher, a Zoroastrian housewife from Mahim, has a similar sentiment about her annual trips to Siddhivinayak temple. “Years ago, I found an agarbatti box with a picture of Ganeshji, and I could not get myself to throw it away,” said Saher, who for the past ten years has been eating only vegetarian food on Tuesdays, which she spends in prayer before an image of the elephant god.

“Many Parsis have respect for Ganeshji because he is the god people name before they begin any work.”

For Moin Hodekar, 26 , a pious, namaz-praying Muslim from Sewri, praying to Lord Ganesh is part of the pluralistic culture in his chawl. “My family has been active in the chawl’s Ganesh mandal for more than ten years, just as all the Hindus partake in Eid celebrations with us”.