We were staying in a building in Pune where all the kids were of similar age group. A day or two before Chaturthi we would all get together, decide on the amount of 'vargani' (contribution) to be collected from each family. There were 10 families in our society at that time. One apartment used to be empty by default, so we would decide to place the idol there. We then went about collecting the vargani. Then came the important task of going out and selecting & booking our idol. I remember we would always select one with a purple 'pitambar' (dhoti) and a yellow 'uparna' (shawl). We would then go into the decoration shop to purchase the latest decorative items. Ooops I forgot to mention that, before venturing out to buy the decoration we would already have decided upon the theme and design of the decoration (float). Sometimes it would be a temple, once it was a lotus..So finally with all the decorations in hand, we would spend most past of the night before Chaturthi at the apartment, finishing off the decorations. Arguments, suggestions all happened with good spirit. There were some who were leaders in decoration while some like me were doing tasks like handing over strips of sticky tape!!
The next morning, most of us accompanied the Kakas (uncles) to the idol shop to collect our idol, bringing in Ganpati in our society with lots of shouts of "Ganpati Bappa Morya", "Mangalmoorti Morya"..
Dressing up for this day would be special for all the girls as we would dress up in Sarees, and all the moms in the society giving last minute alterations to their blouses so as to fit their daughters !! As the procession with our Ganpati would enter the premises, we would all rush down to the parking & then follow till the apartment where the decoration was done. Then we would ring the 'ghanti' (bell) to let every one at home know that it was time to come down for the Aarti. The Aarti would be a very enthusiastic event with us kids shouting the aartis to our limits...and yes we all waited for the special 'modak' that was the parasaad of that day..once the aarti was over and everyone was done with the darshan & prasaad, it was the turn of us kids to decide our plan for the rest of the day...we would gather again after lunch and then play cards, carom...etc. We would also practice for the small plays, dances that we were to perform throughout the 10 days. The dances would be choreographed by the bigger girls, & the plays too were directed by them. There were fancy dress competitions also. I remember one year I had dressed up as a bhaji-wali (vegetable seller) and had won the 1st price!!
All through the 10 days we were allowed to stay up and play or just talk ...and each family got a chance to offer prasaad, my Mom's prasaad used to me most sought after...she would make sheera (suji halwa) or sabudana khichadi...or...now I don't remember!!
Slowly the days would wear on and the final day would arrive, and it would be time to bid adieu to our favourite Ganpati Bappa..There was a farm behind our society that had a well, and all the locals would bring their idols there for the 'visarjan' (immersion). We would again all go along forming a mini procession...and shouting "Ganpati Bappa Morya".."Pudhchya varshi laukar ya" (come soon next year)...
I thank God for all that He has blessed me with!! GANPATI BAPPA MORYA !!!!