After celebrating the love between Lord Shiva and Gauri (Goddess Parvati), we welcomed their son, Ganesh, into our home. Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most spectacular festivals on the Hindu calendar, many weeks of preparation have led up to this event, craftsmen and artists have been busy building idols of this round bellied God in a huge variety of sizes and poses. During the last couple of weeks, shops selling Lord Ganesh idols have popped up on every street. Lord Ganesh has been eagerly waiting to be welcomed into homes across India, last night the mass exodus occurred in a glorious fashion.
We chose our clay Ganesh idol a couple of weeks ago, but like the other Ganpatta Bappa statues waiting on the roadside, he had to wait festival began to come into our home. The night before the festival, the traffic terrible, the whole of Nagpur was out collecting their Lord Ganesh, buying decorations, flowers and sweets. It reminded me of Christmas eve in England, that last minute rush. A mixture of stress and excitement.
Just like Christmas, we bought tinsel, but instead of putting it around a tree, we used the shiny tinsel to decorate the area Lord Ganesh would be staying during the festival. The whole evening, especially the tinsel, reminded me of Christmas eve, of my family, and I became really emotional and home sick.
The morning started with a pooja (prayer) to invoke the spirit of Lord Ganesh into our clay statue, a priest came to chant the mantras as my husband performed the pooja. Lord Ganesh is said to bestow his presence to every one of his devotees during this auspicious time. After being adorned with the holy leaves of Hinduism, red flowers, haldi (tumeric), kumkum (red auspicious powder) and a touch of his heart, the divinity of Lord Ganesh dwells in the clay statue. I love hearing my husband chant Sanskrit.
That evening my husband and I went out for pav bhaji (one of the most amazing Indian dishes, originating from Mumbai) and we saw so many Lord Ganesh statues in trucks, travelling behind huge processions of dancing and drums.
The whole city was alive with beating drums, fireworks and celebrations. Before going to sleep we all performed another ritual to Lord Ganesh, aarti, where a small flame is offered to the God as a Sanskrit song is sang (me and Alfonso couldn’t sing the song, we didn’t know the words).