If I have fallen in love with Pune, I have fallen in love with its hills, its freedom, its festivals. When a festival comes, the markets are busier than ever, the people more pumped up and the streets so beautifully lit! And the most iconic of these celebrations is the Ganpati festival. The atmosphere is insane, the crowd maddening and the experience unforgettable! Thanks to a friend, I had the best view I could ask for and I was snapping the procession like crazy through the day (and the night, and the next morning)!
The amount of work that goes in the practice sessions is crazy, and it shows. The dhol pathaks are a significant part of the Ganpati celebration and we all have our classic favourites, with newer ones joining each year. And the best thing is seeing young kids wanting to become a part of them so enthusiastically! Watching these people play the dhol-tasha in perfect harmony and with that kind of exuberance is so very palpable that I never wanted the procession to end, and I didn’t want to leave. Just another performance, just another troupe I kept saying, until I ended up spending the night at Laxmi Road! The visarjan is a huge deal here and there’s really no way you can describe what it feels like being there. You have to experience it at least one. The gathering is overwhelming, yet there was nowhere else I would’ve rather been!
There was one thing though that kept gnawing at me even amidst all the celebration – how troubling the sound of the caravans must have been for the bullocks that were a part of the procession. They were few but they were there none the less. Can’t our processions be held without inflicting such strain on animals? Perhaps it is time we reconsidered certain aspects of our traditions and celebrations.