Festival

Ganesh the obstacle creator

12:46 PM

Ganpati festival! A 10 days long affair to celebrate the most well known deity of the Hindu pantheon, the God with the elephant head, who is also known as the obstacle remover…
In Mumbai this festival is a big deal, giant idols are carved months in advance, processions are loud and colourful and everybody gets a public holiday on the first day of the festival when Ganesh is welcomed home, and many get a holiday on the last day as well when Ganesh is immersed in a body of water.
Each years activists raise awareness about using clay idols painted with eco friendly paints to protect the water bodies, but fishes continue to die in many lakes and even the sea, other groups lobby to keep the noise level to an acceptable limit in vain, years after years the loudspeakers and drums get louder, this year even allowing the noise until midnight. The good old problems of festivals in India, where consumerism led to irresponsible celebrating.

But this year, the beloved elephant God got used as a tool for minority political parties to gain publicity…2014 election oblige. According to some parties in the city, it was not fair that Mumbai schools got only one day off on the first day of Ganeshutsav, when Diwali result in a 2-3 weeks holiday break and Christmas/New Year gives 10. As a result they managed to put pressure on the department of education to shut all school for 4 days instead of just one.
The problem? The department of education apparently released the circular on Saturday 7th with many school not getting a hold of said circular until Ganpati on Monday 9th without any ways of asking the government body clarifications about it as the office was of course closed for the public holiday. I myself got a text message at 11.47pm on Monday (which I didn’t hear coming) and read it in the morning on Tuesday: As per the circular of the Education Department, the school will remain closed on the 10-11-12th on the account of Ganeshutsav, the next 3 Saturdays will be school days to compensate.
BAM all plans I made for the day got reshuffled, and I was blasted with 3 days of keeping a hyper 4 years old occupied, without notice whatsoever.
And I am still among the lucky few who not only got a text, but also happen to be a SAHM. Many other parents in other schools didn’t get that luxury, some working parents had to rearrange their days at the last minute after reaching their kids school and being told to go home, kids in Ishita’s school didn’t get the text and showed up to be told there would be no school, the SSC board in her school has still not been informed about the Saturdays being school days or not, while the IPC kids have.
In fact according to the paper, many school approached a clueless government asking them how exactly they are supposed to compensate for the 3 days of extra holidays, some rumours of cutting the Diwali or Christmas holiday short is still going in some schools, and many are still in the dark about what will be done, in the end it seems the department of Education not wanting to face more wrath and fire decided to leave it up to schools to find their own way to compensate the loss of 3 days in the curriculum. It’s even more of a problem for certain schools as end of term exams are scheduled this month, and they are now 3 days short of lecture to complete the curriculum, a thing that the minority party igniting the flame didn’t think about…you see their move is purely motivated by the prospect of getting more votes in the coming election…who cares about education? Education is beside their personal evil, the more educated the masses become, the more likely people will start questioning their agenda and corrupt ways…let’s keep people dumb and ignorant seems to be their motto.  

And because these parties are usually made of bullies, the schools that dared staying open on Tuesday got the political babus knock at their door telling them to comply to the circular.
I don’t want to question the request for holidays during that festival, it is after all a big one in the State of Maharashtra, but apparently a one day holiday has never really been an issue the previous years, and what makes it seriously ridiculous this year is the 11th hour nature of the move. Most school said that they had no problem against a longer holiday around that time either, as long as it remained a planned move and announced before the start of the Academic year, letting them plan the curriculum around the dates itself, which they didn’t get to do this year. Parents could also have been informed earlier, leading to people taking leaves and go visit relatives during that time instead of suddenly finding themselves in a tizzy on Tuesday wondering how to juggle their office requirement and the sudden unforeseen holiday inflicted on their kids and themselves.

My carefully panned meal plan for the week pretty much went out of the window, cooking with a 4 years old that want to go to the park and the library, and paint, and dance, and jump and read books, and see her friends and watch TV is not compatible with trying new recipes out (had many I wanted to test this week), so I reviewed my plans, did try one or two new dishes, but yesterday in an urgent bid to get Ishita and myself out of the house we headed to the supermarket to buy a few groceries and ended up in Starbucks for a quick lunch (Ishita wanted KFC but the one near our place is temporarily closed down). evenings were more of a drag than the days as the monsoon seem to be retreating and the evening thunder storms made a comeback and lashing rains kept us indoor instead of out playing with friends.

In the hand of a few opportunistic politicos, Ganesh has managed to actually create obstacles and inconveniencing lakhs of people in Maximum City…well done!

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