Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ganesh Chaturthi Day 1

Many Mumbaikers are in the midst of celebrating Ganesha Chaturthi also called Ganpati.  As you already know, last Thursday I was lucky to be invited over to Sanjana's family's home to celebrate with them.   I'm going to do my best to share a little bit about what I've learned about it.

I've learned from Heeru, my other friends here and then I've read more on my own.  If I make any mistakes in my writing, please know it's unintentional.  Just like families who celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, everyone does it a little differently than others so that's a factor in my experiences too.  If I've written something you disagree about or I've made an error, let me know.  Or if you like what you see, that's nice to hear about as well.

So, a little more about my first Ganpati...
Sanjana's family was so wonderful and welcoming to us.  Before we entered their beautifully garlanded and decorated doorway, we slipped off our shoes.  We needed to be barefoot to enter.

At the end of their living room was a large table where we saw their Ganesha. Thursday morning, the celebration began.  Families brought home their carefully selected Ganesha.  There are many sizes and designs just like families have different nativity scenes.
He's surrounded by lights and incense and flowers which pay tribute to him.  During his journey to Sanjana's family's home, his head was covered.  Only when the priest came to invoke Lord Ganesh's spirit was his head revealed.  Priests visit families' homes to help the family help the family pray throughout Ganesha's visit.
You'll notice that at Ganesha's feet there are several items.  There are leaves with fruits on them to represent the planets.  There's coconuts and more flowers.  All of these offerings help to pay tribute to him.
Heeru taught us about the traditions and symbolism of Ganesha Chaturthi.
Also, there are bags of fruits and other items that visitors brought with them as gifts to Ganesha.
We each took a turn anointing Ganesha with a special red paste.
Debbie anointing one of the family's smaller Ganeshas in honor of their children.
The red paste, called unguenet, is on a silver tray along with some rice that we sprinkled over this feet.
Barbara's turn.
After we paid our tributes, we were treated to delicious foods.  We tasted delicious samosas and lovely mint sandwiches.  We had wonderful paneer treats and Indian tea.  During our visit we chatted with Sanjana's family about how they celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi, about Sanjana who's living in New York City now and we even saw her wedding photos.

We really enjoyed getting to know them.  They are kind and gentle.  So considerate and caring.  During our visit, they actually asked if we wanted to join them on Monday for their family's immersion.  During the immersion, they'll make final tributes and prayers and then go as a family to the sea.  Can't wait for it!

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