Ganapati is Pune’s favourite deity and my inquisitive mind asked, ‘why’? There were reasons like ‘the Peshwas, Pune’s administrators, worshipped the deity’ to others like, ‘Pune had various temples dedicated to the God and most Ashtavinayakas are located in Pune district or close to it’. However, those answers did not suffice my quest for information. And then, a crazy thought entered my mind; Punekars are so much like their favourite deity! On occasion of Ganeshotsav, here’s a special story on the various similarities between us Punekars and our beloved Lord Ganesha. Read up on!
Ganesha is the ‘God of Wisdom’ and Punekars love this attribute of him, and themselves. More than intelligence, it is important to be wise, for only the wise can think of smart ways to deal with their problems. As another mythological story goes, Ganesha and his brother Kartikeya challenge each other to complete a pradakshina or an orbit of the world. The confident Kartikeya was sure of his win, for the rat (Ganesha’s vahana) was no match to his peacock when it came to speed. While Kartikeya got a head start and went about his journey, Ganesha calmly walked a full circle around his parents. When Kartikeya completed his journey and came back, he was aghast to see Ganesha there. When he asked if his brother had completed the challenge, Ganesha explained how ‘the world is contained within Lord Shiva’ and also stating ‘that parents are the world to a child’. Kartikeya was displeased and asked his parents to be the judge. Their mother Parvati agreed with Ganesha and left her younger son enraged. The episode shares an important message, ‘shakti peksha yukti shreshtha’ (ideas overpower physical strength).
Vighnahartas (Problem Solvers)
The confident bunch. Ask them for a patta and they’ll direct you in detail. They’ll use pathetic landmarks like napping dogs, a line of beggars, overgrown banyan trees, etc. to explain the address. The left-right will be replaced by ‘var’ (up) and ‘khali’ (down) and even if you follow his/her instructions obediently, you’ll surely be lost!
The relaxed ones. If you wish to be ushered to your desti- nation properly, these are the guys you should be ques- tioning. No matter how far you want to go, be it going to Chinchwad from Kothrud or going to Nal Stop from Mhatre Bridge, their answer will be the same. They’ll point in a particular direction and say, “ithun saral”. To know your road further, you’re expected to bother the next Punekar you meet. Annoying it may be, but you definitely won’t be lost or confused!
Punekars are not really known to show-off money. That’s something people from Delhi and Mumbai are known for (yea, yea, stereotypes. Well, whatever!). Nor are we seen chasing money and trying to be rich without thinking of the consequences of our actions. Go to the bus- iest shopping destinations of the city, and the Punekar will promptly close shop in the afternoon, to enjoy his siesta or afternoon nap! Puneri shopkeepers will rarely be seen handing out discounts (and Puneri women will never settle unless they get some. It’s an epic battle!). The shopkeepers will seldom resort to deceiving advertising to bring in more customers. Riches may be lost in a while but prosperity stays with you forever. Punekars focus on quality of work and are extremely particular of the way things are done. It is such qualities that make our bakarwadis and missals perfect, and it is the reason why various shops and restaurants around the city have been in business for generations!
Prosperity is also about learning, for prosperity brings happiness. Ganesha is known to be a consort of the arts, and though the sitting idol of Ganesha is the most pop- ular, there are various others that depict him dancing, singing and writing. Ganesha was a scribe to the Vyasa and is said to have written down the Mahabharata as narrated by the sage. It shows his love for poems, for the sacred text is written in a poetic form and narrated likewise. There are also paintings that show Ganesha playing a tanpura, and thus, like most Punekars, Ganesha surely is an art lover (which is why I doubt he really enjoys the sounds of loudspeakers compared to that of the dholtasha).
There might be many other attributes that link us to our God, and though Punekars refrain from comparisons, especially with a God, it’s crazy how many similarities we have. Don’t you think?