A priest performs Navratra rituals at Arjun Munda’s Ghorabandha residence on Thursday. Picture by Animesh Sengupta
The spirit is willing, but the back is not. That’s what chief minister Arjun Munda must be musing this Durga Puja.
Munda who left the city for Ranchi on Wednesday after a hectic Johar Yatra, will be back in his hometown again on Saptami night or Ashtami morning, but brave a spiritual setback.
His niggling back pain — the lingering after-effects of the May 9 chopper crash — may not allow the chief minister to perform a task he looks forward to most every Puja — a two-hour havan on Ashtami morning at his ancestral Ghorabandha home on the eastern fringes of Jamshedpur.
This time, nephew Ganesh Solanki, the 25-year-old son of Munda’s elder sister Dakshini, will take his place, instead.
Munda had been badly hurt — L2 vertebrae and ankle fracture, hairline fracture in the spine’s lumbar — when his chopper crashed on May 9 on Birsa Munda Airport in Ranchi.
“Since 2003, he has been performing this ritual. But this year, his back is not strong enough for him to sit cross-legged on the floor for hours on end,” said Ganesh, also the Jamshedpur zilla parishad councillor (section No. 4).
He is also known to be close to his mama.So, he knows that too well that the deeply spiritual Munda would not like to miss the one ritual that he considers his main source of inner energy and reason for his success.
“I know he’d love to sit for the havan for even some time. He has great faith in the powers of the almighty,” added the nephew.
But Munda’s team of doctors who have been keeping a hawk’s eye on their VIP — and workaholic — patient, will have the final say. After all, his fractures had him bed-ridden at Ranchi’s Apollo hospital and his official Kanke residence for months.
Doggedly, he worked from a special motorised bed, earning accolades from political friends, foes and people at large.
With time, he used a wheelchair and then a walker. Now, he walks on his own, but in slow, measured steps.
Fractures have healed, but the back is less easy to please.
His medical team tells him when he overdoes the walking or sitting, which as a chief minister he does all too often.
But he compensates for physical overwork with regular physiotherapy.
Right now, the atmosphere at the Ghorabandha home is one of subdued festivity.
At home, kalash sthapana for Navratra is performed at Munda’s ancestral address 150m from the new residence.
“Elder uncle Bhimsen Munda is sitting for Navratra puja with my aunts, including Meera mami (the chief minister’s wife). Arjun mama is at Ranchi but will make it a point to come for the Ashtami havan,” Ganesh said.
A community Puja is also hosted under Munda’s patronage just beside his house.
An affable neighbour, Munda always makes his presence felt at the pandal on Ashtami and Navami. Wife Meera is the president of the community puja, JMM leader and Ghatshila MLA Ramdas Soren the secretary.