MUMBAI, INDIA, September 28, 2012 (India Times): Away from the odiousness and mercuriality of international politics, Jaikumar Trivedi last week installed a Ganesh statue in the heart of Swaminarayan Mandir on Ganesh Chaturthi. The next day, Ganpati Bappa was taken around the temple premises in a rath yatra. Bhajans resonated, dandiya raas followed, and then a bhandara. Finally, the elephant-headed God was taken in a simple procession to a jetty in Karachi and immersed in the sea.
In India, Bal Gangadhar Tilak transformed the annual Ganeshotsav festival into a large, well-organized public event. In Pakistan though, it survives as a communal, domestic event. Its scale is small, the pandals missing from roadsides, the modaks replaced with motichoor ladoos. But the fervor of the devotees undeniably is as strong.
In Karachi alone, at least 1,000 people take part, says Maharaj Parshuram, a priest. "The tradition of celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi has been continuing here since pre-Independence." Indeed, as Pakistani film distributor Satish Anand points out, the festival is second only to Holi in popularity. It is observed wherever Hindus live in considerable numbers.
Trivedi, the priest at Swaminarayan Mandir, says at least 25 to 30 statues are taken to homes and temples in and around Karachi. Most of the statue makers live in Karachi. "We don't have a holiday here, so people work around their schedules and come together to celebrate in the evenings," says Trivedi. That does not imply the government does not provide support.