The First AArti

It’s our favourite time of the year. The most divinely frolic week, it was the first day of Ganesh Chaturthi. With the arrival of bappa, the long-lost life of the house was retained after five months of brain-draining home quarantine. We cried on the top of throats “Ganpati Bappa Morya” during the arrival procession, and it definitely was the first instance of excitement and optimism after months. 

Apart from the devotional values, what makes Ganesh Chaturthi Special is that, it brings the oldest Aaji of the family to the farthest cousin kaka, a fair of all generations of the family together.
As every year, my kaka-kaki and cousins were the earliest to join in right from bappa’s arrival procession. Maasi too came in, flaunting her finest saree and jewellery. Atya prepared and showed us her special modaks for the Ganesh Chaturthi’s bhog
Pandit ji had entered the room on time and instructed baba with the pooja practices. Didi struggled in her saree to help Aai with the home chores, meanwhile still managing to click a good deal of selfies and flood her gallery. Aai had tucked the pallu of her gorgeous Paithani saree as she prepared the yummiest authentic Maharashtrian lunch. And amid all that, I rushed around relaying behind everyone, capturing all that frenzy in my phone.
Soon it was time for the loud, chaotic yet thrillingly joyful first Aarti. So I requested everyone to gather in the room. Now, a Ganpati Aarti in a typical Maharashtrian household, isn’t just another coordinated singing of devotional songs. Rather, it’s a lawless performance of all the family members with various props, making sure they are loud enough to jam your ears for the next hour after the Aarti is over. 
So without any delay, the race to grab their favourite sound props and instruments began. Dada (elder brother) sat with his dholak, and his daughter, my three year old niece sat with her toy drum. Most of them had their pairs of cymbal or tambourines (मंजिरा) while for others, the musical instruments for the day was going to be their own palms. The kakis took out the Aarti books that came free with the regional news papers and had assumed the job of directing the Aarti and correcting wrong lyrics by raising their pitch midway.
Soon it was time and Pandit ji showed a thumbs-up. Dad, standing in front of Bappa added camphor to the diyas and we were all set to begin, when Leena Maasi interrupted-

“Arey Beta!! Sunil Mama has not yet joined. I mean we all joined conveniently but I think Sunil is having some trouble to join with the Zoom link you sent on the family group.” 

And so, me, the technical incharge for the day got to my job of helping Mama join our zoom meeting. Soon Mama was on board, so I continued pointing the camera at bappa and keeping my window on spotlight, we began the Aarti with bappa’s name. “Ganpati bappa morya“, everyone began to blared into their microphones. Some, without even realising they were on mute. With poor internet connections, some of their audios cracked, some of their videos- distorted, the sync disturbed. But since we all had a stronger connection with bappa, our devotion and happiness remained undistorted, undisturbed.