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At Ganesha's feet

Shankar Mahadevan is busy chanting Ganpati Bappa Morya and gorging on the yummy modaks. The music composer, who recently sang in an album devoted to Lord Ganesha, has taken time off to celebrate the 10-day long Ganapati festival at home with great gusto. He talks to CS about his love for Ganesha:


Who: Shankar Mahadevan
What: Talks about bringing Lord Ganesha home
Where: At his studio


Devotional notes
I love Lata Mangeshkar's rendition of Sukhkarta Dukhkarta composed by Hridaynath Mangeshkar. In Carnatic music, there are many beautiful Kritas dedicated to Lord Ganesha. I like the ones by Shyam Shastri. Before every concert of mine, even if it's a Bollywood one, I always recite the Ganeshvandana. For us, Lord Ganesha is like a supreme force that governs our lives. He is the guiding light for my family and me. We surrender all our successes, failures, anxieties and worries before him. Every year, we bring home the Lord for 10 days. This period is filled with aartis, bhajans, sweets and reunions with family and friends.

Setting the stage
Preparing for the festival is a lot of fun. We erect a huge wooden stage in the living room to place the idol. All the kids in the building help us decorate the set. This year, our Ganesha idol resembles Lord Krishna with a mayurpankh (peacock feather) on his head and a matka of butter by his side. So, we have placed the huge serpent, Kaliya, behind the idol to match the Krishna theme. The children have paintef the background, placed the festoons and decorated the stage with flowers. Siddharth, my elder son, is a big Ganesha bhakt. Three months before the festival, he goes to Pen, the town in Raigad that's famous for Ganesha idols, and selects the idol. Thereafter, he is in constant touch with the makers about the colour, finish, design and so on. As a family, we may not be ritualistic per se, but we believe that devotion should come dil se.

Food fun
My wife Sangeeta and her aunt, Sheela, manage the whole show at my home. There is a caterer who makes a traditional South Indian lunch for the first day of the pooja every year. It consists of hot modaks, payasam, vadas and other delicacies. We change the menu over the ten days. On Anant Chaturdashi, we hold a special aarti and bhajan session at home. The visarjan (immersion) is also a lot of fun when we climb on a truck and shout Ganpati Bappa Morya. My favourite pandals are Lalbaug Ka Raja and the GSB Ganpati at Matunga. In Vashi, we go pandal hopping after 1am at night when the roads are clear; it's a lot of fun.

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