Last night Neeti told me that she was planning to visit Lalbaug, Parel with colleagues, and pay obeisance to Mumbai's patron God, Lord Ganesh. She planned to leave real early, at 4AM, which was a bit of a stretch for me, that too on a Sunday morning.
At nearly 4.30AM, we left home and were accompanied by Neeti's colleagues. The drive to Parel took barely 30 minutes and as we reached, the Sun began to rise on Mumbai and on us, the devotees of Lalbaugcharaja, as Lord Ganesh here is called - that literally translates to "The King of Lalbaug"!
It isn't surprising why the Ganesh here is called Lalbaugcharaja - the Ganesh sits majestically on a throne, gently looking at the teeming devotees lining up to seek His blessings!
The rush at 5AM had to be seen to be believed. Such is the devotion of people. Neeti had visited Lalbaugcharaja a week back and she was astounded by the devotion of people - some people came down from Delhi to seek His blessings, others stand in queues for nearly 12-15 hours just to catch a glimpse of the Lord!
While the festival had been celebrated for centuries, as long as the Hindu philosophy has existed, it was only in 1893 the festival became a public event. The nationalist, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak recognised that the appeal of the Lord transcended castes and realised that these passions could be used to unite the masses and ignite nationalistic fervour, against British colonial rule!
And it did happen! One patriot shaped the festivities to what they are today - Lalbaugcharaja is a living proof of that even today, the biggest gathering of people in Mumbai today!
As I saw the teeming crowds jostling to make their way to the Lord, I wondered why the beatific and gentle idol of the Lord had to be immersed at the end of the festival.
That is when it dawned upon me - everything is transitory, everything comes and goes, nothing is permanent, nothing is temporary. It's an endless cycle of life and death, of joys and sorrows.
While we should live, fully, in the moment, we shouldn't get attached to anything, but we should realise Almighty is there, always, for us! And so, we should let go....!
On the way back from Lalbaugcharaja, we stopped by at Matunga's Cafe Mysore, which is an institution in itself!
Matunga for nearly a century had been home to communities from the erstwhile Madras Province.
These migrants provided the white collared workforce for the British regime and cotton mills nearby at Parel!
With the migrants came their food - hearty, delicious and simple South Indian fare.
Just as many establishments in Mumbai did, Cafe Mysore fed stranded people during the flood of July 2005!
The light and fluffy wada in rasam was delectable.....
After the dosas and idlis, it had to be filter coffee, which is simply irresistible!
Ah well, there's something for dogs here at King's Circle! A dog spa!