Ganesh Chaturthi is usually the time when scattered family members in Goa come together under one roof, often their ancestral paternal home, to worship Lord Ganesh.
Just like every year, the Fondekar home in Margao is one of the busiest households in Goa on the first day of Ganesh Chaturthi. Their ancestral home at Adade Faria Road in Margao has once again come alive to the sounds of festive preparations.
Vaikunth Pai Fondekar, head of the family, is busy in the preparation for the Puja. “We are a joint family with more than 300 people scattered all around in Goa and abroad, and Ganesh Chaturthi is the fixed time for all family members to come together at our ancestral place for collective celebration,” says Vaikunth.
The Fondekar family had to downsize the celebration due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, however, their spirits are still high. “Due to the pandemic, the SOPs have been laid down by the government. So we have to abide by it. But I would like to say that this is still better than last year because more members were able to come to the celebration. The rest of our family members will join us by video call,“ smiles Vaikunth.
In keeping with the custom, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are painted by one of the family members. “Our Ganesha’s makhar has been in the family for more than 100 years and it is also a tradition among our family to paint Shiva-Parvati every year by one of us,” says Vaikunth.
On the first day of Chaturthi, special prayers are performed at his home. The festivities end in just one and half days with the final immersion of Lord Ganesha in their own well. “Till immersion, we perform various rituals, it is total dhamka and an occasion for our entire family to be together.” Vaikunth tell us.
While female members of the family will perform special ‘Nariya Pratha’, young and old men indulge in folk dances and other daily entertainment.
Traditionally in Goa, the idol of Ganesha stays for three to five days. But In the Fondekar family, the Lord Ganesha stays for a year and, as is tradition, is immersed next year when another Ganpati idol arrives at their home. “Ganesha is with us throughout the year. It is a sacred task for us. We will bid our farewell to this idol only when a new idol has arrived in our home. It is a custom that has been practised for more than 100 years in our family.” Vaikunth says.
Covid-19 pandemic has turned the tide on Ganesh festival celebration for the second in a row, however, Fondekar family is one such example where a low-key affair can also become a grand celebration.