I am a resident of one of the most sought-after high-rises in Indirapuram. This high-rise is known in the local vicinity for organizing various festivals, social gatherings and celebrating it together.
I moved and became part of this high-rise family three years back around Ramanavami. Being a spiritual person, the one thing that caught my attention while shifting were the songs and music, being performed from one of parks inside the condominium. Group of ladies with a picture of goddess set on a table placed right in the centre of the park, adorned with a beautiful red dupatta were singing and dancing in praise of Maa Durga.
Since then, I used to wait eagerly for Navratri so that I can be part of the group and get immersed in devotion. This year's Navratri alike any other, began with announcements on the society WhatsApp group that the musical gathering, popularly known as Keertan, will be held in the club and all the necessary arrangements will be done by the Apartment Owners' Association (AOA) team.
Earlier, Keertans used to be performed in the park because there was no representative body and we had to take permission from the builder to organise such religious activities. Besides, club hall used to remain booked for other functions, compelling builder to deny permission for 'free' gatherings. Now when the society has a body to manage daily work, the club has been arranged for organising such activities during the nine days at a designated time.
Well, before I could thank the person for posting the message, another one beeped informing that there will be another Keertan held in the same park. Everyone is invited for the same. That is when the message trail started – 100 of them were in favour of organising Keertan in the park whereas 100 of them backed the new team. Who is right and who is wrong is being discussed! Meanwhile, the Keertan started at both the places. The park got a fully decked up small pandal-like structure with picture of Goddess Durga who will be taken back home when the Keertan ends and another one in the club where the deity is going to stay till Navratri concludes. Women dance and sing in her praise at both the places.
I causally asked one of the coresidents why don't they perform the Keertan at one place. "I mean , they can always join and pray together, isn't it," I added. I was informed that the bone of contention with this activity is the offering box (Daan Peti). Really! The AOA has kept some regulations for Keertan ike no offerings etc which the regular Kirtan group doesn’t want to follow. They want to organise it on their own terms. But it can be sorted and discussed, isn’t it?!
Next morning, my phone buzzed again with WhatsApp messages, this time with a mail snapshot from one of the organisers, accusing one of the AOA members misbehaving with him on the issue of performing Keertan in the park. Minutes after another mail came from the member itself, stating the organiser misbehaved first and crossed the line! The WhatsApp group was divided on this issue, with half supporting the member and half backing the organiser. Afterward, reply and action on the same was solicited from the AOA president! "Good lord, the goddess was not called as witness to solve this issue," I sighed.
Today, someone in the morning, inquired me in the lift - So which Keertan group are you joining? I did not say anything at that moment but gave a gentle smile to her and exited the lift. I thank god and my office now for keeping me engaged at work, otherwise, it would have been a very difficult situation for me to handle such 'offerings'!
In the past three days, my phone was buzzing with Keertan pictures and videos showing which group has more attendance and power! Well, it seemed to me the 'Clash of Keertans'!
Is this really a Keertan? I beg to differ! My mother used to tell me that 'Keertan' means open your heart and surrender yourself to the God. It was not meant to gain or achieve something but to sing and dance joyfully and get immersed in utter devotion of the Almighty. Its objective was to transform us into a soulful, spiritual being, not to participate in it for mere entertainment, gossip or pass time! Well, the time has come for me to accept its 'latest' definition!
Jai Mata Di!