Govinda and wife Sunita Ahuja, along with their family members and friends, got together to celebrate Ganeshotsav at their home, a tradition started by Govinda’s mother 33 years ago. The Hero No 1’s Juhu bungalow was flooded with guests and fans who wanted to catch a glimpse of the celebrations this year. His son Yash (Yashvardhan) and daughter Tina were seen personally attending to guests and ensuring the aarti preparations were in place. Amid the festive cheer, Govinda and his wife Sunita exclusively spoke to Bombay Times as they took a trip down memory lane.
Traditions are meant to be carried forward and this year Govinda’s son Yash took the lead in performing all the rituals that are associated with the festival. On the day of the visarjan of their Ganesha (they keep the idol for a day and half), the actor’s wife shared, “Lord Ganesha means a lot to us. My mother-in-law started this tradition of getting the Ganpati home and we are continuing that. In fact, this is the first time that our son Yash has got the Ganpati home and he did the visarjan as well.”
Sunita said, “We wanted Yash to learn these things and take charge, so that yeh pratha aagey bhi chalti rahey. That’s the whole point of festive traditions. Your children take it forward from you. Jaise bhagwaan nay Chichi (Govinda) ko itna saara pyaar aur success diya, main prarthana karti hu ke Yash ko bhi wohi pyaar aur yash milay. Main chahti hu ke woh bhi bada actor banay. Ganpati Bappa Morya!”
Govinda said, “My mother wanted me to do Ganpati pujan. She started this tradition 33 years ago. Getting Lord Ganesha home gave me perspective. Sometimes you put in the hard work, but there’s no planning. You get success, but not consistency. My mother believed that getting Ganeshji home will inspire me and bring a sense of direction to my life right from the days when I was a Virar boy. Whatever I am today, it’s because of my mother’s blessings, her faith in God and my better half — my wife. Yeh ded din humko yaad dilate hai ke humari duties aur responsibilities kya hai as a human being and a family member. I have been lucky in life and my career. God has showered me with immense love and success and I will always be grateful for that. I never got any awards and I still became ‘Hero No. 1!’ (smiles). Ganeshji nay joh yeh tag diya hai mujhe, uske liye I am most thankful.”
Taking a break from feasting on the scrumptious ghee boondi laddoo prasad offered to us, we talked food with the family. Sunita said, “We love kaju modaks and ukadiche modak (steamed modaks). The food is pure vegetarian made in ghee. It’s also fun to get ready and have friends and family over. We couldn’t do this for the past two years. Bheed hai toh khushi hai. Bhagwaan sabko healthy rakhe.”
While listening to the sounds of the Nashik dhol playing on the streets, Govinda added, “Mumbai feels so alive during Ganpati. The city has made me who I am. I am thrilled when someone talks to me in Marathi. Mala khoop ananda hoto. Mumbai is my janma and karmabhoomi. This city is like my mother. It’s beautiful to see people finding a reason to collectively celebrate and meet each other. Ganeshotsav doesn’t discriminate between people. No matter who you are, everyone comes together to celebrate it with equal vigour. Ganpati sees us all as equal, a quality that Mumbai shares with its beloved Bappa.”
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