Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lalbaugh Ganpati must be weeping....

Our visit to pay homage ( He is the Raja of Rajas, remember) this year, was an unmitigated disaster. The entire experience was unpleasant and awful, making one wonder why chaos rules even though the authorities are well aware of the burgeoning numbers. There are no systems in place, zero crowd control and to make things worse, nobody seems to be in charge! This is a dangerous zone, and I am amazed there have been no casualties so far. I was told over 16 lakh devotees rushed to Lalbaugh on sunday, leading to a complete breakdown of whatever arrangements had been made. I went on a monday afternoon, to discover lakhs of very frustrated people being shoved and pushed around by over zealous 'volunteers', who behaved like the worst bullies on earth. There were infants and young children with hapless parents trying to protect them from falling down and getting trampled in the melee. All those bewildering queues meant nothing at all, as the crowds surged forward aggressively, nearly knocking down the metal detectors. Madness! Once inside, there was no way out. No emergency exits, no exingency plan. Had there been even the smallest crisis ( someone fainting ), there was no way any help could reach the person. People were throwing coconuts at the deity's feet unable to get close enough to hand them over to the priests. These coconuts were lethal - like missiles that could kill an unsuspecting pilgrim. The atmosphere was tense and miserable. Ones thoughts could not possibly turn to God under these stress -inducing circumstances. I wanted to escape.... but how? Once in, people were trapped.Scarey and disturbing. When it should have been uplifting and divine.
I have been keeping my tryst with the Raja for years. The pandemonium this time has given me such a jhatka. This is really not how it should be. There is enough money in the kitty to make better arrangements and get some professionals on board for some serious crowd managemenet. The cops were too over- worked and sleep- deprived to care. The commandos were hanging around looking confused, leaving all arrangements to officious organisers who only seem to get their act together when a Katrina Kaif comes by for a photo-op. Can we not anticipate the numbers and ensure there is some regard to the safety factor? This year, we were also combating Swine Flu, and yet no attempt was made to educate the lakhs entering a narrow lane crammed with mask-less believers, who kept naively repeating, " But Ganpati will protect us." Add to that the on - going security threat, and the entire exercise became a horror story. Tomorrow is the Visarjan day. A friendly cop called this morning to ask whether I wanted to take another shot at saying goodbye to Ganpu at Lalbaugh today. I hastily declined. I'm sure Ganpati had heard my prayers on monday. They were for him! We cannot do this to Mumbai's beloved God. Let us find ways to restore lost dignity so that next year, devotees can enjoy a better and safer access to the Benign One.
Here's the promised feedback to 'Quick Gun Murugun" - it was a letdown, I say!! A few good lines (good, not brilliant!), cannot hold a flimsy script together. Dr. Rajendra Prasad was sincere, loveable and innocent in a poorly written role. The problem with QGM is the timing. Those of us who remember the early MTV promos went to the movie hoping to revisit the madness and originality of the concept. But does a cool concept necessarily travel well across decades and generations? To me, it was a forced and dated attempt at inducing magic into a dead idea.Apart from the hilarious names ( Rice Plate Reddy etc), nothing else made any sense. The one promising dance track right at the beginning, was chopped just as we got to the 'Gimme a thumka' .Worst sin of all - nobody laughed!!


Theyoginme said...

Maybe they need to put in some remote Darshan facilities. Video cast it.. I know its not the real thing..but i can't imagine how 1.5 million people can be accomodated. Its unrealistic. Alternatively, people can download an access pass - only issued once in 5 years with your PAN number or something..

Anonymous said...

Idea demands Time.

Harish said...

At Some pandals you can get the best body massage. And sometimes if you are lucky, you get some lusty hands too turning the moment truly orgasmic.

Ahhho! Pudhe Sarkha Madam is like a sacred hymn taking you close to a heavenly feeling. Some pandals play the best of bollywood and pop music. And also celebrate with Rassi Bombs.

Seriously speaking, i feel the real essence of the festival is now lost. There are somethings that should not be touched by modernity. I feel lord ganesha would really be depressed if he witnessed the drama that happens in his name. Though eco friendly idols are a huge reprieve, there is a lot that needs to be done in maintaining the ethnicity and the essence of the festival.

Our disaster management would be only after the disaster, we are reactive not proactive.

Katrina Kaif ke liye special entry??? She definitely doesn't deserve it. In fact no one does. It pisses me off completely when i stand for hours at the siddhi vinayak queue and watch some hot chick with her rooster and chicken cozily move inside the mandir. I don't mind it at times, when its a celeb that big that it might cause a pandemonium. But it cant be for everybody. What have they done to qualify as the gods chosen ones? Or are they in some life saving deputation that they cant wait?


Until swines really flew, we will not wake up with precautionary measures against swine flu.

We started with immense fear psychosis, and again, we are at our amnesic best. Funny people we Mumbaikars are.

Pehle Alert, Nantar Palat.

Unknown said...

The possibility of the occurrence a stampede appears very real, from the way you describe the state of affairs at the venue.

maglomaniac said...

Hi Shobhaa,

I don't have much of a belief in god and the likes.But even for those going there such menial planning is not only tiring but also mortal.

Few days back we have witnessed the death of hundreds of believers who were caught dead in a stampede at the famous Jodhpur fort's temple.
And the reason for their death was the ground which became slippery because of coconut water.If even such small measures are not taken care of I quite doubt how they would tackle emergency situations like a fire or the most repeated bomb hoax.

I personally feel that at times like these it is far better to stay at home rather than to go and (you never know what awaits you).

Anyways for the believers-God is omnipresent so why the worry.


Unknown said...

The same madness unfolds in Kolkata during Durga Pujo. Specially on Dashami. If they can spend lakhs in decoration, pandal....etc why not spend another small fraction in crowd management!

And it has been not only once that people have lost lives owing to poor planning for crowd management.

डॉ महेश सिन्हा said...

isiliye kahte hain ki bhagwan hai jo is desh ko chala raha hai

Jogeshwar said...

You actually went through such crowd! It is a terrifying experience, feels claustrophobic. I have experienced once, never again will I go into such crowdy places. I agree there should be better crowd management, but having seen Mecca so many times on tv, they make huge arrangements, yet so many people have died in stampedes. I believe no matter how good crowd management is done, such crowdy places will always be hazardous.

चंद्रमौलेश्वर प्रसाद said...

May Lord Ganapathi bestow jnana to his devotees to realise that he is not so cheap to be available on streets:) BHAGAT KE BAS MEIN HAI BHAGWAN....

P said...

thats a shame! I was kind of hoping to watch it this weekend! I am thankful for your mini review. I despise mindless comedy and have absolutely no patience for it!

About the Raja episode, its almost the same madness at Tirupathi. I have been wanting to go there but havent been able to schedule a trip! My visit was canceled twice when I came down with fever! But have heard that there is no regard for the devotees who are jostled away from the idol within 20 secs of standing before the revered deity! At times I wonder, if our colossal population has made us disregard basic decency and etiquette!

Unknown said...

mz de, indians have never believed in the omnipresence of their gods! only in devotional hymns they scream that he is everywhere. so, every festival, their god suddenly loses his celestial powers of "being everywhere every moment" and becomes earthbound! why can't each devotee celebrate this at their homes, escapes logic. during holi and diwali, some of this madness is absent because the concerned deities visit each and every home. don't all gods give darshan whenever a true devotee just shuts his eyes? "kan kan mein hai bhagwan" and "tu khet mein milega, khaliyaan mein milega, bhagwan to, ai bande, insaan mein milaga". so strange! i don't think we have understood the concept of gods and faith. everything is commercial amd materialistic. jai ho!

Gajendra said...

small correction shobhaa, Channel [V] not MTV

Latha said...

1600,000 devotees in one place on a single day could be disastrous.
Even if they are asked to come over 20 days, there would be around 80,000/day. Next year it might become 100,000/day.
They should allow only a safe number of people a day & conduct whatever pooja is done over a period of 20 days.
But our politicians will wake up only after disaster strikes with heavy casualities. May be they are waiting for one. I'm sure they wouldn't be in the crowd.

kaprasanna said...

Brilliant.. Absolutely brilliant..
Sitting in Bangalore I can only imagine your (and all devotees) plight at Lalbagh.
I hope and wish, better sense prevails and things improve sooner before any major disaster strikes.

Unknown said...

The popularity of Lalbaughcha raja is next only to the Siddivinayak temple of Prabhadevi. So why not this dil ka raja of mumbaikars get a temple all for himself so that he can shower his blessings throughout the year to his devotees. This would considerably reduce the crowds that swell during the Ganesh utsav every year.


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