“Ganesha is the Vighnahartha and I have immense faith in him. He removes obstacles in life. I feel blessed, with all that He has bestowed upon me.
“I have been celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi, by keeping a Ganesh idol at home, since 2000. When we kept the idol for the first time, my wife and I turned to our friends, to inquire about the rituals to be performed. Initially, we used to keep the idol for 11 days. Now, owing to my shooting schedule and the numerous invitations we receive from friends during Ganesh Chaturthi, we can manage only five days of complete devotion to Him,” says Sood.
Decorating the house for Ganpati
Preparations for the festival in Sood’s home, begin well in advance. “Sometimes, I call an art director or a floral artist, to create the makar (temple) at home. We use a lot of fresh flowers. Last year, we had used white and purple orchids. Proper lighting also adds to the spiritual atmosphere at home and the entire room is well lit up. Subtle diyas and lights create a cheerful and refreshing décor for the celebration. For the Prasad, everything is cooked at home and we ensure that Ganpati’s favourite modaks and laddus are always available. My favourite melodies for the festivities are ‘Jai Ganesh jai Ganesh jai Ganesh deva’ and ‘Sukh karta dukh harta vaarta vighnaachi’. The whole atmosphere at home is soothing and positive, with Ganesha’s presence,” the actor explains.
Eco-friendly Ganesh Chaturthi
Sood points out that we often forget how the small things that we do during the festival, can cause harm to the environment.
“As devotees, one can adopt several measures for environmental conservation during the celebrations, such as using natural and biodegradable decorations. For the last five years, I have only been keeping eco-friendly Ganesh idols at home. At the end of the festival, I immerse the idol at an artificial pond in Lokhandwala. We have to be responsible towards nature and not add to the rising pollution,” Sood maintains.
Television actor and host
“I am neither an atheist, nor someone who goes to temples often. I do not pray and ask for things. However, I share a special relationship with Lord Ganesha. For me, he symbolises happiness. Whenever he comes home, there is joy, peace and solace at home. In many ways, the importance of Ganesha has grown over the years, for me. We always celebrated the festival back in my hometown, in MP,” recalls Dhanjani.
From eco-friendly to DIY Ganesha idols
Dhanjani says that he has been celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi for 17 years, by keeping the Ganesha idol at home for five days. For the last few years, he opted for eco-friendly idols. However, since last year, he has been sculpting the idol himself with clay. “After the immersion, I saw the beach littered with broken idols. It was disturbing to see how we are harming marine life. So, last year, I created an eco-friendly idol. This year too, I have made an idol of one-and-a-half ft myself, with clay. It took me three days to sculpt the idol. It is an enriching and relaxing experience, which gives me immense peace,” he says.
Home decoration for Ganesh Chaturthi
Preparations for Ganesh Chaturthi begin a week in advance. All the decorations are done by Dhanjani’s mother and sister. “The home is lit up with fairy lights. I call a florist to create the Ganpati makar (temple) at home. I like to use marigold and mogras. For the Prasad, we prepare various delicacies but my favourites are modak and kheer puri. I like to deck up my home with tiny twinkling lights and fragrance of delicate flowers and incense. The entire room has a subdued décor and the focus is on the Ganpati area, which is as bright and cheerful as possible.
“This year, I will do the immersion at an artificial pond in Goregaon made from rain water, to avoid polluting the sea. I like the whole process of getting the Ganpati idol, celebrating the festival and finally the visarjan (immersion), where the idol returns to its mud form, indicating the full cycle of life,” Dhanjani concludes.