Goodbye Goddess Durga

I was feeling pretty down during Dussehra, I cannot tell you why because I don’t know myself. The following day, I was feeling a little better but annoyed I had missed the Dussehra celebrations. Dussehra marks the end of Navratri, the Goddess Durga idols are immersed in the lakes and huge models of the demon Ravana are burnt. No use in being annoyed at one’s self for feeling depressed, it’s natural I guess. We cannot be happy 100% of the time, right? 

The day after Dussehra, we went out to eat and got stuck in traffic. The traffic was at a standstill because the Goddess Durga from the polystyrene temple (the same one I previously wrote about), was being taken to the lake to be immersed. My husband told me that some of the idols are immersed the following day, to avoid crowds (plus many of the Buddhist pilgrims, who are also celebrating during that day, use the lake for bathing).

Hooray, thank you for waiting for us Goddess Durga. There was a parade, drums, a brass band, dancing, women carrying weird chandeliers on their heads. We had arrived just on time and our car had got stuck in the crowd at the perfect place to see the parade! The atmosphere was electric, so many people wanting to catch a glimpse of the Goddess before she left us.

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Oh, and I have some news… I am going to England for Christmas!!

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Navratri: Polystyrene Temple

For weeks, workers in Abhyankar Nagar have been busy creating a huge temple made of bamboo, fabric and polystyrene! Now Navratri is in full swing, it’s so hard to believe that this structure, called a pandal, isn’t made of bricks, plaster and paint!! Just amazing! People come from all over Nagpur to take the darshan (seeing the divine image of God) of the gorgeous Goddess Durga idol within. The streets around the pandal are beautifully lit, it’s like Christmas over there!

navratri durga temple pandal festival nagpur

Beautiful lights, hard to capture on camera.

navratri durga temple pandal festival nagpur

Lord Ganesh welcoming everyone at the entrance!

navratri durga temple pandal festival nagpur

Hard to believe it’s only made of polystyrene, bamboo and fabric!

navratri durga temple pandal festival nagpur

Inside this huge pandal, which was inspired by the Jain temples in Jaisalmer, there are grand chandeliers, imported from Kolkata, and gorgeous rangoli (colourful designs made with power and/or flowers). The rangoli designs are refreshed daily, they are masterpieces, it would have been nice to visit everyday if it wasn’t for the crowds! The white decorations all over the temple are carved out of polystyrene, that stuff which is used in packaging and easily breaks into little balls (I remember getting in trouble once when I was really small for breaking up the polystyrene because I wanted to make it look as if it were snowing!).

navratri nagpur mandir pandal rangoli goddess durga devi love beautiful

Chandeliers imported from Kolkata

navratri nagpur mandir pandal rangoli goddess durga devi love beautiful

Carved polystyrene decorations

navratri nagpur mandir pandal rangoli goddess durga devi love beautiful navratri nagpur mandir pandal rangoli goddess durga devi love beautiful

navratri nagpur mandir pandal rangoli goddess durga devi love beautiful

Save the girl child!!

navratri nagpur mandir pandal rangoli goddess durga devi love beautiful

Lord Shiva

navratri nagpur mandir pandal rangoli goddess durga devi love beautiful

Beyond the crowds of people, the Goddess Durga idol stands! If you look at her face, sometimes she looks angry and sometimes she looks loving. That is the nature of Goddess Durga herself, a mother and a warrior. Absolutely stunning! I hope you enjoyed taking this trip to see Goddess Durga during Navratri with me! I still cannot get over the fact that this temple is made of bamboo sticks, fabric and polystyrene.

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Ganesh Visarjan: Lord Ganesh Goes Home

As the sun started to set, it was time for our clay Lord Ganesh idol to be immersed and I really did not want him to go. After ten days of adoration and worship, we now had to drop him into the lake. I have to admit, I didn’t feel good about it. My husband and everyone else didn’t see a problem with it but, not accustomed to throwing beautiful things in lakes, I was upset when my husband picked him up to go.

gorgeous sky india

lord ganesh visarjan flowers

Just before we left…

Once we left the house, I could hear the rhythm of celebration across the city, processions taking Lord Ganesh idols, big and small, to the lakes of Nagpur. We got into the car and drove to the lake, with Lord Ganesh sitting on my lap, seeing literally thousands of other idols sitting on laps in cars and the backs of trucks, even pulled along with tractors. As we got closer to the lake, the roads were so busy the traffic kept coming to a stand still, everyone with a Lord Ganesh on board, heading towards the same place. The atmosphere was electric with fireworks, dancing, drums and excitement.

Lord Ganesh Selfie

Lord Ganesh selfie, the car journey

Just before we arrived at the lake, volunteers collected the plastic bags containing the flowers which had adorned Ganesh idols, to avoid the plastic polluting the lake. The volunteers were also checking that the Ganesh idols were made on clay and not any material which could cause damage to the lake. I was really impressed that such care had been taken! In recent years the use of plaster of Paris has increased, this material causes a lot of pollution and should be immersed into a water tank and safely disposed of instead of into lakes or oceans.

After almost an hour of driving at a snail crawl, through the crowds and heavy traffic, we finally found a parking space and took Lord Ganesh to the water’s edge. A short and sad farewell followed by a large plop, he was gone.

Seconds before the plop!

Seconds before the plop!

Oh my gosh, what an unbelievable atmosphere at the lake, it was beautiful. People were performing a final aarti (offering a song and flame to God) and exchanging prasad (blessed food). A wonderful feeling of community and celebration, I really believe that Lord Ganesh was present, not only present, he was smiling.

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Final aarti

6 ganesh line

Mahalakshmi Festival Begins…

On the first day of this three day Maharastrian festival, Mahalakshmi in the form of two sisters (Goddess Jyeshtha and Kanishtha Gauri) and their children, are welcomed into the home. Being the Lakshmi of the family (eldest daughter-in-law, bahurani) it was me who carried them in, this was really nervewracking as they were heavy, and the only thing I could think was, ‘for goodness sake, don’t drop them!’.

mahalaxmi mahalakshmi festival faces

Don’t drop them!

mahalaxmi mahalakshmi festival marathi

Welcoming the Goddesses and their children into our home

I carried the faces (mukhotas) into every room of the house to invoke the Goddesses presence into the home, except for the bathrooms, she didn’t really fancy going there. The Goddesses and their children stood on the carpet I brought back from Morocco, dressed in two of my mother-in-laws most expensive sarees, and all the jewelry I own. But, like Indian women everywhere, less is not more, more is more, so the also wore every piece of jewelry everyone else owned too. Plus the bangles we bought for her especially.

dressing mahalaxmi festival mahalakshi marathi

necklace on mahalakshmi white and red saree silk

Once the sisters and their children were beautifully dressed, we wound string around their bodies for protection, and poured grain around them to create their own sacred space, described to me as their house. This grain house had a small doorway which I also poured grain over, oops, I quickly removed the grain apologetically, no one likes being locked in their house. I managed to get locked in my house once, it wasn’t pleasant, I kept thinking something would spontaneously combust and I wouldn’t be able to escape.

string around mahalaksmi

String for protection

mahalaksmi

I then made a complete mess of the symbolic footsteps, showing Mahalakshmi entering. After making the disastrous rangoli foots steps, which made it look like a mutant bird was walking into the house instead of the divine, grandma produced a nice foot step stencil. Oh darn, I’ll use that next year.

Please don’t laugh…

mahalaksmi

“footsteps”

foot steps rangoliOnce they were all dressed and settled in, we decorated them with flowers, lights and little lamps. I made sure there were some of my favourite, orange marigolds. They were now ready for the second day of the festival, where my husband and I invoked the spirit of Mahalakshmi into the idols. 

orange marigolds rose orange marigolds

mahalakshmi ready

festival selfie

My favourite saree, a gift from my husband

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