The Mukesh family’s Ganpati celebrations each year have been one of the most awaited one - for 27 years now. Last year, the Mukesh family celebrated their intimate Ganeshotsav at their new home on a small scale due to Covid protocols. Speaking about their plans for this year, Neil Nitin Mukesh shares, “Mom and dad have shifted base to all of our new home, so we have got Bappa here only and preparations are going on as we speak. The decorations are in full swing and Nurvi is also one year older, so she is also more interested and excited to participate more. She is busy packing the prasad with my mother in special boxes. But like last year, we have made sure that our Ganpati idol is not too big and is eco-friendly. We are also making sure that the footfall is very limited.”
Last year, due to the pandemic, Neil had to settle for an intimate, small-scale, family-only celebration. This year, the situation isn’t any different but comparatively a little better. So, any change in the scale of celebration? “This year’s décor is a little elaborate like we used to do. Last year, dad was feeling a bit low as he wasn’t prepared for such a low-scale celebration, and we are people’s people, so we are used to thousands of people coming to our pandal in the 10 days. So, with no one coming and everyone calling and saying they miss it, it felt incomplete. Although, we were glad that at least bappa was able to come to our home.”
Speaking about this year’s arrangements, Neil informs, “This year, we have increased the scale a bit, but we are allowing only very close family and friends to come, who have been following protocols. We just want to peacefully and safely maintain these 10 days. This is our 28th year celebrating this festival. We have brought the decorations from our old home. The idol used to be five feet tall usually, but this year we have got only a two-feet tall murti. Everyone can’t come to visarjan also due to the protocols, so we want to be careful about that too. Even though the idol is eco-friendly, traditionally you want to take him to the sea only. Last year, we did it at home, but it felt a little sad. We also don’t like doing anything gimmicky like making chocolate Ganpati or modak or gems Ganpati that people eat afterwards. We like to keep the tradition alive.”
Last year, since they couldn’t invite many people, Neil had turned henna artist for his wife and mother. Does he plan to do the same this year too? “After marriage, if you do something once, you cannot back off from that then. This is a lifelong commitment now and I’ll have to pamper Rukmini this way for the rest of my life,” he smiles.
Neil shares that living with her grandparents, Nurvi has become more accustomed to their traditions and culture and even takes part in aarti every day with her dadi. So, like last year, will Nurvi take the place of in-house pandit ji again? “This time, she won’t just do her pandit duties but also ask for her bhojan and dakshina,” he laughs.
The proud dad just gleams talking about his daughter. “She is a very people’s person. The other day, the electrician came to our house to help us with the lights and decorations. He has been with us for about 20 years now, and Nurvi was busy throughout the day entertaining him, trying to impress him. She was dancing and singing for him, and he even said that ‘bilkul Mukesh family pe gayi hai’,” he shares proudly.
Ganpati has always been a special time for the whole Mukesh family. Ask Neil about the memories he has associated with this festival and he gushes, “For me, it used to be like a big wedding for 10 days in the house. For us as kids, it was a festival we used to look forward to the whole year. Ganpati is like the onset of the festive season, so from Ganeshotsav to New Year’s day, we would have at least one festival each month, so it used to be an exciting period.”
He shares the details of their Ganpati tradition as well. “These 10 days of Ganpati used to be all the more exciting as every day we celebrated one festival with Ganpati bappa. Whatever festivals we celebrate throughout the year, we celebrate that with Bappa again every day during these 10 days. One day would be Satyanarayan ki Katha, then Ramayan Path the other day, followed by Holi, Diwali and Raksha Bandhan too. About 150 people from the family from around the world would come to us for these 10 days. Family members would come from the US, Singapore and more so from within the country and thus the scale would be so huge.”
In 2020, the family couldn’t be there, but this year, things are a little different for the Mukesh family. “Last year, my sister couldn’t fly down from Kanpur, and my father was really upset because of that, but this year she has flown down to Mumbai, taking extreme care. As a bua too, she is so excited to meet Nurvi and spend time with her. Ever since we have been kids, memories have been galore with this festival, and now even Nurvi would be able to make her own memories. The other day when we brought bappa to home, I showed Nurvi her videos from last year and her excitement knew no bounds. Her memory won’t take her back there since she is so young, but seeing the videos she went crazy. And now these are the memories that she would grow up with,” Neil signs off.
Image Source: Instagram /neilnitinmukesh, SpotboyE Archives