Vinayaka Chathurthi and Chennai

Pic Ctsy – Times of India.

I was in Mumbai when the festival aroma was out in the streets. Places were being reserved for huge Idols of Lord Shri Ganesha to be placed on the day of Vinakaya Chathurthi. People are getting ready for the Huge Idols, Fancy Idols and all possible celebrations to their favourite deity. They have been doing this for years.

Chennai ?

When I was a kid, it was a joyous process after waking up on a Vinayaka Chathurthi day. I used to take a huge wire bag, to bring back the God home. Clay Pillayar was usually got for Rs. 5 to Rs. 15. (Last year Pillayar costed Rs. 25. Who said Hinduism hasnt grown with the times ?) . More than the Pillayar, the Pillayar Kudai was the most fascinating one. People come with creative ideas every year. Folding Umbrellas, Steel Umbrellas and much more. After buying it, walking back home will be even fun. There used to be Huge Idols of Lord Ganesh, painted in bright colors, sitting on almost every alternate street beginning. I had a thought that rich guys buy these instead of the clay ones.

Now I dont see them in that magnitude.

Chennai has a Pillayar temple every nook and corner, unlike Mumbai. Compared to Mumbai, many come to temples in Chennai. I can say the Bhakthi factor is much prevalent in Chennai than Mumbai. But why has the festival spirit come down. Or has it ? Im not advocating for the Huge Idols in the city. But trying to figure out, why the number has gone down.

Is this due to a lot of law restrictions imposed ? Makes me think. We have law restictions to Diwali. Bhogi. Vinayaka Chathurthi. People reasonate Environmental Hazards for these law restrictions. But they dont give a damn about the environmental hazards from other sources.

Im not a Hindutva guy or a VHP, and nor a supporter of their activities. But why is that too many Hindu festivals are imposed with Law restrictions, and that too Only in Tamilnadu. I somehow feel, Hinduism is taken for granted here in the Dravidian land.

“Yaar vendumaanalum Archagar Aagalaam !!”.. (any one can become a Archagar).
“Koyilil Thamizhil Archanai Seyya Vendum !!”… (Mantras have to be recited in Tamil rather than Sanskrit).

These may be very good laws. But why are these laws composed for just hinduism. Not every religion. Just Hinduism. May be I’m not aware of anyother law passed for any other religion by the Tamilnadu Govt. You could let me know, if you do. I’ve been wondering how a Government is imposing rules into a religion. May be because this is a Land of Periyar.. ?

Pullayaarappa !! Nee dhaampa kaappaththanum !

8 Comments so far

  1. Hi (unregistered) on August 27th, 2006 @ 8:59 am

    BJP overtunes from Keerthi ?

  2. okonami yaki (unregistered) on August 28th, 2006 @ 6:42 am

    Those Ganesh, Vinayaka etc. Temples are in every street corner in Chennai so that passersby can pray and have Vineshwara on their side in any project they are about to begin. Going to school, taking an exam, going to the office, or just going for a ride on the motor cycle could all benefit from a little bit of help. One might see a motorcycle rider take his right hand off the handle bar (slows him down a bit) in front of the street corner temple and make that hand gesture towards his own face. This signal , although not in the handbook for drivers, is well recognized by the locals.
    More people go to temples in Chennai perhaps because bhakthi is rife; or may be because these people find a visit to the temple a soothing diversion from watching television. For younger people this may be a socializing outlet without having to spend too much money or stay out late.

  3. Chenthil (unregistered) on August 28th, 2006 @ 9:10 pm

    Keerthi, just think about your sentence “Hinduism is taken for granted here in the Dravidian land.”. It implies that the two groups are different, and there in lies the rub.

    Tamilians have been Saivites and Vaishnavites from 8th century onwards. Prior to that, it is difficult to point out what was Tamilian’s religious affiliation, but one thing clear from the literature is that Tamils prayed to Murugan as their main god. There is a theory that Murugan was later co opted into Saivite tradition, but again I am walking on a thin line here. Due to this cultural background, Tamilians celebrate functions like Pongal or Karthigai in a far more grand manner than Diwali or Vinayaka chathurthi. In small towns I lived in, people never celebrated Pillayar chathurthi with processions. Pillayar idols used to be immersed in a local pond or a well. It was a pretty low key affair. The same town used to have a festive mood when there was a local Mariyamman Thiruvizha. Think why is it so.

  4. WA (unregistered) on August 28th, 2006 @ 10:34 pm

    “In small towns I lived in, people never celebrated Pillayar chathurthi with processions” – Chenthil talks about the town he grew up in here and I just wanted to point out that things were not much different in Chennai either until recently. As teeny toddler growing up in mylapore I remember aruvathimoovar crowd and pongal with its karumbu and manja kothu, diwali and maargazhi maasa bhajanais and stuff a lot more than any Vinayaka Chathurthi processions. I do remember loads of little Pillayars and kodais etc but not the huge mumbaikar style Pillayars. Pillyar chathurthi to me involves little pillyars with kodai and modhagams and visit to the temple rather than the Mumbai influenced huge pillayar who then gets dropped in the ocean.

  5. Keerthivasan (unregistered) on August 29th, 2006 @ 8:12 am

    Chenthil and WA, ellam Correct dhaan. In Villiwakkam alone there will be a minimum of 10 to 12 huge Pillayars. And on my way to college, there were even more. Now, after just 3 years its all gone.

    Again Im not advocating that this is the festival spirit. But there is some reason to the end of play. May be becasue the groups dont gather enough money. Or may be due to police restrictions to avoid the Muslim battle in Triplicane. I think the latter could be the most possible reason.

    Police has been restricting Diwali and Bhogi keeping in mind the environmental hazard. Police wouldnt care about other sources of Env-hazards. Police has made a huge issue about the Pillayar processions.. they say they shouldnt contaminate the ocean. They wouldnt care about the other sources that contaminate the ocean.

    Too much of police policies are entangled with the Hindu religious festivals. DOnt you think ?

  6. Keerthivasan (unregistered) on August 29th, 2006 @ 11:09 am

    @okonami yaki, by your comment you have reminded me of the Hamara Bajaj Ad.. ! remember ?

  7. WA (unregistered) on August 29th, 2006 @ 11:20 am

    To be honest with you the police restriction of the stopping these huge Pillayar statues being dropped in the ocean doesn’t upset me too much for various reasons, first and foremost it doesn’t affect what I see as traditional Pillayar Chathurthi celebrations(as I see it).

    After the previous provocative post on caste and stuff, I personally dont fancy getting into what could be another sticky argument with the Chennai metbloggers. I just wanted to add to chenthil’s comment and say that it was not much different in Chennai either until not so long ago. Thats all, am out of here now.

  8. goodluck (unregistered) on September 5th, 2006 @ 1:40 pm

    Thanks to know about chennai,festivals.I born n broughtup here.During my school days i use to wake up till whole night to observe the festival of mariamman, pullyar,murugan.I really enjoyed those days.

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