04 September 2008

Ganesh Chatruti

Last night Linda and I got to see a real India festival right around the corner from MSR (or rather up the block and across the way). Indians are now celebrating the festival of Ganesha Chaturthi. It's bigger elsewhere (Mumbia) but we still enjoyed it thoroughly.

For those of you who might not be familiar with Ganesh, he is a rather interesting character. The son of Shiva and Parvati, Ganesha wasn't the most beloved of his rather violent father, who beheaded him for getting in the way. Parvati desperate to help her son, performed what would be the first animal-to-human organ transplant, replacing his head with that of the first living creature she found, an elephant.
Ganesh is a fun-loving god always fat and happy looking with his wonderful trunk - he looks particularly good on Roni Rosenfeld's desk where I last saw him lying on his side like a swimsuit model.

The idea behind how the worship is to be conducted goes as follows if I understand correctly:
1) You build a Ganesh idol out of mud.
2) You optionally paint him with garish, lead-based paints which are very bad for you and don't improve his looks.
3) You do a puja (religious ceremony) with him at
4) You dance some
5) You take him to the nearest body of water (or bucket if you are following the eco-friendly governmental advice being promogulated through the radio this year) while ringing bells and/or shouting as you proceed.
6) You pray in front of him and shout things loudly, waving fire or bowing over fire, or generally doing fire-related activities in front of him.
7) You carry him to the water where you immerse him several times (sounding familiar anyone?)
8) You drown him (possibly leaving toxic waste if you haven't been careful about where you do this and what Ganesha was painted with).
It doesn't quite make sense to me, but it was a whole lot of fun to watch and the celebrants were quite excited to see us (oh so many picture requests).

So we walked down in the moderate darkness, complete semi-organized chaos (lots of police) and thankfully the dunking was in a pool cordoned off from the rest of the lake (this took place at the Sankey Tank, just up the road from MSR). I'd write more, but am tired and should have gone to sleep awhile ago already.

Tomorrow morning early, Linda and I are heading to Coorg for an extended weekend where we will stay at what looks to be a fantastic eco-retreat - the rainforest retreat. So we won't be easily reachable for a couple of days, but you can check for twitter updates (on the right sidebar).

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