Sunday, September 14, 2008


It's visarjan (immersion) time for the lovable elephant-god. As his annual sojourn ends, suddenly eco-friendly Mumbaikars are busy taking out processions carrying their favourite deity to his watery bed - from where he will ascend to his true home, the Heavens - with much pomp and revelry.

This revelry is one of my favourite sights of the festival, because it still delights and amazes me to see women, of all ages, apparel and girth, taking part energetically in the farewell procession - dancing away uninhibitedly. Visarjan dancing is the joyous, free-spirited dance-as-you-like which cheers the dancer and the bystander alike.

In culture-conscious Kolkata, dancing is frowned upon as a slightly delinquent pastime (unless it is the attenuated, affected, discipline-bound formal dances). Dancing at festivals and weddings is the prerogative of youths, inevitably male and usually drunk. To break this male bastion, a woman has to risk ogling stares, whistling catcalls and bottom-pinching pests.

But here in egalitarian Mumbai, my heart thrills everytime I watch a group where women are dancing freely and happily, with enthusiasm and without fear. My shoulders twitch and my feet tap out the drum-rhythms as my daughters clap and dance-as-they-like, shouting full-throated, whole-hearted and free-soled, "Ganpati Bappa Mourya!!!"


Nancy said...

Now this is something one doesn't hear about much in the midwestern U.S. I think I like this elephant-god already. Have you considered putting pictures in your blog??

ugich konitari said...

Actually, in my childhood(50's), the done thing was for the ladies to knid of walk sedately behind the ganpati towards the immersion point. As children, we all did our best to shout "Pudchya varshi lavkar ya", and even then there was no dancing of the filmy kind you see today.

Visarjan processions in Pune still have lezim and sports/arts/music displays by schoolchildren in school bands etc, ladies playing

Mumbai being the melting pot it is, the changes were bound to happen. But, I think, despite the changes in "fashion" so to speak, the primary thought in everyone's mind at visarjan time remains unchanged.....

waiting for next year..

its_me said...

i wish i could also be a spectator of Visarjan processions ...

Koel said...

thats exactly why I like Mumbai so much.......the freedom it gives to do exactly the way you want to do things without inviting unapproving glances from all over :)

sukku said...

Wish I was there as I know how it is in Hyderabad....anyway I hope you had great fun

Lazyani said...

There has been a change in Kolkata too. The Durga Puja immersion processions do have a sizeable female presence too.

These days with the big community pujos being challenged by those being held in the housing communities, the ladies of these housing societies are an aggressive component of the 'Bhasan Parties'.
So if you have a latent desire to dance with a Bhasan Party in Kolkata , you are welcome:)

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Hi nancy,

I'm sure you'll love ganesha,he was a big foodie (don't know about the vinophilia, though).


Thanks for filling me up on visarjan knowledge. You are right about the waiting for next year aspect, even during Durga Puja visarjan, Bengalis shout "Aaschhe bochhor aabar habey" (It'll happen again next year).


Me, too.


I'm sure you'd have loved it.


That's the best of Mumbai - it really is egalitarian.


Thanks for the invite. Now I only have to persuade the schools and colleges in Mumbai to declare Durga Pujo a week-long holiday and then I can take up your invitation.