Baby’s First Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the largest, loudest and most colourful festivals India has to offer. Lord Ganesh comes to town in the form of beautiful lovingly crafted clay idols and placed in homes and temporary temples (pandals) on almost every street corner. The passionate cries of “Ganpati Bappa, Morya” (Lord Ganesh, Bless Us) echo through the city. It’s a time to come together and celebrate.

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The night before the festival, the whole of Nagpur comes out to collect their Lord Ganesh. Simply think of the last minute rush on Christmas eve, then times it by ten. My sister was completely amazed by the atmosphere, “everyone is just so… happy”. In traffic, if you look inside another car, you’ll see Lord Ganesh perched on someone’s lap, on his way home. Processions with drums and dancers lead the way as huge Lord Ganesh idols move across the city. Open trucks overflowing with young men tear past in a poof of pink powder.

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The children must have a fantastic time. Playing in the pandals, dancing in front of the loudspeakers, handing out prasad (sweets blessed by Lord Ganesh), eating modak (Lord Ganesh’s favourite sweet!) and screaming “Ganpati Bappa, Morya” as loud as they possibly can. Our baby is too small for that, he cannot even try a modak yet, but he is learning and absorbing everything around him. Colours, shapes, sounds and smells. This festival had them all!

 

Baby’s First Ganesh Chaturthi

The night before the Ganesh Chaturthi, we all went to see the idols being picked up from Chitaroli (the artisan district of Nagpur). There must have been thousands of clay Ganpati Bappas, and even more people making their way through the crowds. Rohan was wide eyed the entire time, it was a lot busier than I expected. He didn’t complain, just looked in amazement at everything.

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We picked up our clay Lord Ganesh on the way home, he had selected him a couple of days before. It’s tradition not to bring Ganpati Bappa into your home until the night before the festival begins (hence, the rush), and even then he should be covered in up until the next day. Ours came from an ‘eco friendly’ wallah, but next year I would love to try to make our own!

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Over the following days, we drove around the city, spotting the different manifestations of Lord Ganesh. The creativity and originality of many of the idols blew my mind. Sometimes he had green skin, sometimes red, sat on a fish, on a throne, riding a mouse and we even saw one Lord Ganesh with a six-pack (it was a bit odd to see him without his pot belly!).

Any festival dedicated to a deity isn’t complete without story telling! Rohan’s aunty Sammy read him his Lord Ganesh book several times whilst she was here (US/UK/India). I bought this book whilst in the U.K., the high contrast illustrations are perfect for little babies like Rohan, and in a couple of years he will start to appreciate the story as well. The story is all about how much Lord Ganesh loves sweets, and the consequences, so it’s perfect for Ganesh Chaturthi.

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Ganesh Visarjan

After the ten day festival, it was time for Lord Ganesh to go back to his heavenly abode and be immersed. The symbolism of the festival is interesting. Clay is brought up from the bottom of a body of water, made into something beautiful and then returned, dissolved, ready to be brought up again and be made into something different. It’s a reflection of Hindu philosophy, the cycle of creation, preservation and destruction.

Recently, the roots of the festival are being lost with the demand or cheaper and more elaborate idols. Instead of using clay and natural colours, the use of Plaster of Paris and chemical paints has increased. When the idol is then immersed in a lake or the Ocean, it dissolves and causes pollution. I am certain that is the last thing Lord Ganesh would want.

How could you celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi with your kids?

This could be an opportunity to teach your children about the impact of pollution on the environment. I have thought about how Rohan can get the most out of this festival in the future, and maybe you want to celebrate it with your children next year. Here are some of the ways you could celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi with your kids:

  • Create an eco-friendly Lord Ganesh idol for your home.
  • Make handmade decorations out of recycled items.
  • Make sweets together, especially Lord Ganesh’s favourites, ladoo and modak.

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14 thoughts on “Baby’s First Ganesh Chaturthi

  1. Rohan seems to fascinated by the what is happening around him. I specially find his brown hair very lovely. In a few days he would be walking with you, asking cute little questions. About traditions, that is how it is, one generation passes it to the other. Sometimes in the razz m tazz of these huge festivals we forget that it is about tradition and not about who has the biggest idol. We need to repackage our festivals to suit the demand of the times we live. Eco friendly idols is the way forward and I hope this trend continues.

    We Bengalis face the same dilemma when the Durga idols are immersed. For five days, god is with you, you worship her, decorate her, make her part of your life and then one day she has to go. We are like, ” what it is all over? the fun just started. Mother could you not stay with us for a bit longer please?” Goddess Durga seems to say “All good things come to end, don’t worry, I will be back next year, till then be good”. As they say it is cycle of continuous creation and destruction.

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  2. Lovely post Lauren! Rohan looks so interested of everything he see, especially a book! I love this pictures, and Lord Ganesha idols! Have a nice afternoon 🙂

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  3. I come across your blog recently and I am happy that you have found your love and made India home. I have read all your post over the time and found it engaging. Enjoy Navratri with Rohan and stay blessed.

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  4. Pollution and litter are serious issues and a widespread problem in India. I really love the idea of using religious festivals as a platform to raise awareness around the issue! I’m very happy to see how the amount of litter has reduced in a lot of places in the past few years- may this continue and India can become cleaner and greener! I recently heard how Sikkim has become India’s first all organic state and how Karnataka has banned plastic. There is hope!

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    • Argh, I would love to visit Sikkim!! It looks so beautiful!
      I have seen a lot more street cleaners in Nagpur over the years, glad to hear it’s getting better in Mumbai too 😀
      I hope you are well 😀 xx

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  5. This year many folks bought clay Ganeshas in Hyderabad and then immersed it in a bucket of water with which they then watered their plants. Infact clay Ganeshas were being sold in huge volumes on radsides.

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  6. Hi Lauren! Visiting your blog after more than a year. You guys are parents now.. 🙂 Rohan is really sweet! Lots of love and blessings to him. Loved reading your experiences during Ganesh festival..

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