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“I am not a God-fearing man but I am a God-loving person,” says Ssharad Malhotra, a popular television actor, adding that he shares a special relationship with Ganesha. The importance of Ganesh Chaturthi for him, has only grown over the years, says the actor.
“After coming to Mumbai from Kolkata almost a decade ago, I was mesmerised by the Ganpati festival celebrations in Mumbai and the faith people had in him. I love the way everybody comes out on the streets and the way people dance and celebrate the festival with so much joy,” says Malhotra, who has acted in shows such as Banoo Mein Tere Dulhan, Bharat ka Veer Putra Maharana Pratap and is now seen in Kasam Tere Pyar Ki.
“For me, Lord Ganesha is a God that radiates positive vibes. I used to visit my friend’s house during the festival and even go for darshan of Lalbaugcha Raja. I even visit Siddhivinayak temple on Tuesdays. Then, one day, I thought of keeping an idol at home, for the festival. It was a kind of inner calling and so, for the last seven years, I have been keeping an idol for one-and-a-half days at my house, every Ganesh Chaturthi. My devotion and faith has only increased and I love celebrating his birthday at home, with my loved ones,” Malhotra explains.
Choosing the Ganesha idol
Preparations for Ganesh Chaturthi at his home, begin a week prior to the festival. Malhotra first ensures that his home is spic and span, to welcome the special guest. Malhotra ensures that he gets an eco-friendly idol. “When choosing an idol, I feel that it is the idol that chooses me and decides to come to my home to bestow his blessings. I always look at the Ganesha idol’s eyes and choose the most expressive one that connects with me,” he elaborates.
Decorations for Ganpati
Every year, he adorns the makar (temple) at his house with lots of fresh flowers and lights. Malhotra uses the same florist every year, to decorate the temple a day before the festival. “This year, I have chosen orchids and lilies. Fresh flowers not only provide aesthetic appeal, but also add an overall feeling of positivity to the home. Even the main door is decked up with orchids. I like my home to smell fresh. So, I use sandalwood and jasmine incense sticks and fragrance diffuser,” he adds.
Malhotra reveals that his parents, who live in Kolkata, usually come to Mumbai for the festival. “My mother gets special sweets from Kolkata. Kheer kadam is my favourite. She also makes a lot of snacks at home,” he smiles. Malhotra’s sister, who is a designer, designs kurta-pyjamas for him every year for the Ganapati festival.
“I love to follow all the rituals. For the Ganapati sthapna, we call a priest home and also perform a maha aarti with 5-7 pandits. The whole atmosphere is magical. I love the chanting of mantras and the sound of the dholak and different aartis. My favourite aartis are ‘Sindoor lal chadayo’ and ‘Jai dev jai dev’. The aura of the Lord and singing of aartis, fill the air with joyful energy,” he explains.
Bidding adieu to Lord Ganesha
Malhotra prefers to do the immersion of the idol himself and walks till Versova beach. He hires dholwallas to accompany the procession with friends and family. “I wish that Ganesh bestows good health to my parents. It is always emotional to bid Ganesha goodbye and I eagerly wait for his arrival next year. As they say, ‘Pudhchya varshi lavkar ya’ (return soon, next year).
“Next year, I will welcome Lord Ganesha in my new home,” concludes Malhotra, with a smile.
Credit for images: Vinay Fulara