This year, the swine flu is expected to dampen some of the exuberance, but you cannot keep a good celebration down, especially when it brings the society together on faith issues. Last evening, the markets were abuzz and the colourful items on sale created a festive atmosphere all over.
I was out to buy some essentials and got caught in the rush. In fact, it is a rush in more ways than one. The crowds do overwhelm you and carry you in a wave. There is no going back or against the crowd. You cannot cut through or across. All you can do is inch your Way through the bustle of humanity on their vehicles and move slowly in the same direction. You might, if you are lucky, make it in the general vicinity of where you hoped to be, or get carried away further. The crowds are like the eddying waters of a river in spate, with flotsam sometimes joining the water and some finding it's way to the bank.
In all this though, there is another rush. The one you feel when you see that nothing can keep people away from making the most of the joy such celebrations bring into their lives. They are all obviously experiencing the rush that devout faith brings. They have no qualms about braving the swine flu or the recession or the drought that promises to send prices sky high. Some of the more cautious spoke through masks and handkerchiefs on their faces. Yet, the happiness glowed through even the covered faces. It was as if they were encased in a bubble of faith that the virus could not penetrate. While my prayers are very private and I do not understand the faith that drives hordes to one spot and community prayers in the thick of humanity, I have to appreciate the faith I witnessed. It is easy to be blase and dismiss all the mingling as foolhardy and an invitation to disaster. There is no denying that the enthusiasm is invigorating and infectious. It is also a tribute to the human spirit that tries to normalise life under all circumstances.
So, bolo, Ganapati bappa morya!