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A different kind of celebration

Worshipping Ganesh idols during Chaturthi is a common practice, but the Bharne family has not got an idol in over 200 years. NT BUZZ finds out how they celebrate the festival


The Bharne family celebrates ‘Chavath’ in their ancestral home in Madkai but  do not venerate an idol, instead, they bring home a Ganesha painting. They gather a particular kind of weed, which grows widely during the monsoons. These weeds are tied together in a firm cylindrical bunch of about 30 centimetres in diameter and are covered with a big leaf. Two such bunches are made, one for Parvati and other one for Ganesh, each with respective deity’s paintings stuck using thorns. Painted upon paper with organic colours, the images are procured from Betim made by the Dane family.

Sanath Bharne says: “This tradition started over around 200 years ago when there were strict restrictions enforced by the Portuguese regime; they would patrol the place and if they found you celebrating Chaturthi then they would break the idols. Our ancestors were smart and instead of celebrating idols, they began this tradition, so that it was handy and could be easily hidden in trunks whereas it would be a risky task to hide the mud idol.”

This tradition continued down the ages and even after the Portuguese left, the Bharnes never really thought of resorting back to the mud idols and they now love this unique method of celebrating Chavath.

And interestingly, after the rituals are done, and the bunch is immersed, the painting finds its way to the household of a member of the Bharne family. “Since we are a huge family, every year a sub section of the family has to perform the puja and the Ganesh painting is given to that family while the Parvati painting is given to the family who will perform the puja the next year. Then it is up to the individual if he wants to store the painting or immerse it later,” says Sanath.

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