Diary of a Weekend Puneite: Why size doesn’t really matter in Ganapati celebrations!

The Kasba Peth Ganapati... Photograph by Sanket Wankhade

“Bloody waste of money,” mutters the husband under his breath as we pass a brightly lit Ganapati pandal and the streamers of disco lights en route to Santacruz –a suburb in Mumbai. He has a right to be mad. Back at home in Pune, Ganapati is celebrated in lower key, humble and a holistic way. In Mumbai, the city owns the Ganesha and shows him off like the God came down personally to get a selfie with them.

Lalbaugcha Raja
Lalbaugcha Raja

For me it starts off with idol. Whoever says size doesn’t matter! In Pune – be it pandals or even at homes, the idol is smaller and doesn’t compare with the overarching figurine that Mumbai’s pandals boast. Even the massive Ganapati at Lalbaugcha Raja or Andhericha Raja don’t compare with the Kasba Peth Pandal’s Ganapati (slide show)  in my eyes. In Mumbai, the idol is decorated almost akin to the Red Carpet being laid out. Lights, sound, garlands, and a stage. Not to mention loud music. In Pune, eco-friendly is the name of the every Ganesha idol!

It’s not just about the size and show. But also the pomp that accompanies the elephant god’s arrival. My inbox is full of invites to join the Ganapati celebrations with yummy food from my pals in Mumbai. At their homes, décor and meeting work mates, acquaintances and family dressed in their festive finery is a must. It’s also a time to bring out the jewellery from the lockers, healthy but novel snacks and air kissing much like any other party. It also makes great Page 3 news! Manish Malhotra has been in the news for the star sightings as they celebrate Ganapati at his house as much as for participating in LIFW this year. In comparison, Pune celebrates the Ganesha more with family, in a more intimate fashion with close friends, homemade traditional food and spartan décor!

Which is perhaps we love the cultured celebrations in Pune. A yearly ritual is to go for the aarti at the Boat Club pandal where the idol takes on a small stage on the footpath marrying sensibility with space without causing inconvenience to those who reside. Noise decibels are easier to handle and even the lights allow the god to sleep in peace while we give him company!

Goodies in a box
For those who love the steamed modaks that are handmade just this season, pick up a box of beautifully packed goodies from Happy Belly. Home delivered, I assure you they will make your belly happy and wallet happier! A subscription box service started by Neha Thakker and Mahima Anand offers interesting seasonal favourites along with healthy, snack options for your daily needs. And yes, there’s a long online queue — so if I were you, I would place my order pronto!

Game On!
Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar, Priyanka Chopra, Salman Khan – all have one Pune connection in common. The Navanis! The Salman Game on the mobile – designed in conjunction with the superstar himself – has already clocked 1 million downloads within 1 fortnight of its release. My favourite part about the game, his 3 characters in it and yes, apparently 6 more to come. Like Rajan says, “Salman has got some super ideas up his sleeve!” Cant’ wait for more!

Marriages & Bonding Time
When we bumped into Varsha Talera with her children Roshan and Trishla at Sanjay Garg’s fashion showing, we asked the bridegroom to be what he was upto! “Wedding shopping! Otherwise, there was no way you would catch me here.” Given how stylish and arty — the mother and sister are — this is one wedding Pune is looking forward to!

Nidhi Taparia

Nidhi Taparia

Nidhi Taparia wears many hats -- digital expert, entrepreneur, writer and coffee junkie -- with ease. A weekend Puneite, Nidhi left the city 16 years ago to fall in love with Mumbai – but Pune still is her first crush. The views expressed here are personal. Diary of a Weekend Puneite appears every Saturday.
Nidhi Taparia