Celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi with Arpita Khan and Aayush Sharma
The youngest beti of the Khan family, Arpita and husband Aayush Sharma take us behind the scenes on prepping for one of the glitziest Ganesh festivities in Bollywood
Arpita Khan and Aayush Sharma give us a dekko of a Bollywood-style welcome for Ganesha
A Whiff of fresh flowers greets us when we enter the sun-lit Khar apartment of Arpita Khan Sharma and husband Aayush. In addition to a wall of purple daisies that works as a luxurious backdrop to two red Ganesh idols, flower arrangements and candelabra beautify different nooks of the terrace which has been covered to shield the hundreds of friends and family members who have come for darshan.
"Last year, we had rain water leaking in and a few poor aunties tripped on the water. But you know what, they were happy about it, as according to superstitions, if you fall in a religious place it wards off something bad!" says an amused Arpita.
Like Arpita, mother Salma and sister Alvira are all dressed in floral Sabyasachi outfits. "I have always got what I have asked for from Bappa, so I feel that the only way to give back is with an elaborate set up," Arpita explains.
"I first visited their celebrations about four years back. Arpita and I were just friends then. That was the first time I had attended any Ganpati celebration," says Aayush.
It's well-known that it was Arpita who started the tradition of bringing the Ganesh idol to the Khan residence. "We started in 2003. Every Tuesday, I would visit Siddhivinayak Temple with a friend's mom, and I really liked it. When I asked my mom if I could bring home a Ganpati idol, at first she refused as she thought that I was too young to handle the responsibilities. But my dad was more supportive and he agreed," Arpita tells us.
Salman Khan seen doing the evening aarti
The family brings in an eco-friendly idol that they immerse in a tank in Galaxy Apartments, the family home at Carter Road. The celebrations have moved to their Khar home so that the festivities do not disturb her parents Arpita tells us.
Arpita with brother Sohail Khan (holding her son Ahil) immerses the idol in a tank at their home in 2016. Pic/Shadab Khan
The Khan household is a secular one. "We celebrate all festivals in the family with the same enthusiasm; only a Parsi is missing in the family or else we would celebrate Navroz too (smiles). The immediate family members have stopped bringing home Ganpati as they consider this as everyone's. So they invite their guests as well," says Arpita. She adds that she used to attend midnight mass with Helen when she was younger. "My father let us believe what we wanted to, he never imposed an idea on us. My parents always reason things out, logic comes ahead of religion," Arpita tells us.
Arpita does make a few exceptions about superstitions as she tells us that the decor for the year Ahil was born was blue, even before she knew the sex of the baby, and the year the couple got married, the ceiling was decorated with kaliras.
For 15 years now, the food department for the festival has been taken care of by Muthuswamy Caterers, who also own Arya Bhavan opposite Matunga CR railway station. The menu includes coconut stew, lemon rice, rasam wada, sambhar, idli and wada, and delcious curd rice that we can't have enough of. Arpita mentions that for prasad, they offer both mawa (by Ghasitaram's) and chocolate modaks (Tier Nom Patisserie).
"Kids get disappointed when they see mawa modaks. So we have boxes of five mawa and five organic chocolate options," says Arpita. "I don't eat sweets but anything that my wife offers, I eat," jokes Aayush.
Arpita works with the same core team for all parties; Rachna Lakdawala helms floral decorations, and the event is looked after by Dhaval Chandarana of WED gurus. "All Aayush has to do is call his friends and dress traditionally," jokes Arpita.
We look around to see all guests having a great time and ask Aayush what he thinks of his wife's planning skills, "She should become a professional event manager," he answers.
A burst of colours
Arpita has been following a subtle colour scheme of white with hints of colour for many years. But this year, due to lack of natural lighting around the idol, she chose a colour scheme of purple and pink with hints of blue and white. Thousands of fresh flowers such as hydrangeas, carnations, daisies and chrysanthemums were installed a night before the idol was seated.
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