Venkat Raman –
For millions of Hindus all over the world, Lord Ganesha is an epitome of love, respect, friendship, admiration and adoration. He is an important member of every family and is the first Lord of Prayer.
Vedic scriptures describe Lord Ganesha as the Most Merciful of Gods and hence, prayers are offered before the start of any venture. Similarly, all prayers – at home, at temples and at other social and community gatherings, begin with obeisance to this God, the first son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi.
Ganesh Chaturthi, marking the Birthday of Lord Ganesha is celebrated by Hindus everywhere. This year’s celebration was held on Monday, September 5, 2016.
While Temples and social groups performed special Poojas on that day, Ganesh Chaturthi was also marked by thousands of people in their homes throughout New Zealand. Each evening witnessed visits by relatives and friends, which, apart from the religious aspect, also served to foster goodwill and understanding.
Writing in Indian Newslink September 15, 2015 issue, Sai Bedekar, one of our photographers, had said that Ganesh Pooja involves the ‘Panchamrut’ or ‘five nectars,’ including milk, curd, ghee, honey and jaggery, with which the idol is bathed.
He is then soiled with sandal paste and cleaned with water.
“The Lord is then adorned by a red cloth called, ‘Vastra’ and the sacred thread. He is offered red flowers, ‘durva’ (grass), red hibiscus and food and smeared with ‘kumkum.’ A lamp is lit and Pooja bells ring while reciting Aarti. The main sweet-dish presented as ‘nevedya’ through this period is Modakas (Modagams in South India) and Karanjis. A Modaka is like a dumpling made from rice flour with a stuffing of fresh coconut, jaggery and dry fruits and is either steam-cooked or fried. Karanjis are half-moon shaped and taste like modakas.
On the last day, following the Pooja, rice grains are placed on the head of the idol.
At sunset, the idol is immersed in a well or a river, with the recitation of ‘Ganapati Bappa Moraya, Pudchya Varshi Lawkar Ya,’ inviting Him to return next year.”
Ganesh Chaturthi is observed on the fourth day of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapada and is observed by devoted Hindus all over the world from two to 11 days.
Maharashtrians, like their Hindu compatriots worldwide, induct their children into learning with ‘Om Sri Ganeshaya Namaha.’
Ganesha is known by a variety of names including Aumkara, Balachandra, Dhoomraketu, Ekadantha, Gajakarnaka, Gajanana, Heramba, Kapila, Lambodara, Siddhivinayaka, Skandapurvaja, Sumukha, Surpakarna, Vakratunda, Vignaraja, Vigneshwara and Vinayaka. He is also known by many as Maha-Ganapathi.
There are also public celebrations called ‘Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav’ of this festival in various parts of cities, with the local communities (mandals) with contributions from residents. It is common for groups to compete in creating the biggest and best idol and in presenting cultural programmes after dusk.
Radical nationalist Bal Gangadhar Tilak organised Ganesh Utsav in 1893 and since then, the festival is held throughout Maharashtra, evincing widespread community interest.
Shekhar & Vidya Teke
Popular musician, teacher and performer Vidya Teke (who hails from Maharashtra) celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi this year with a theme at her Mt Roskill home in Auckland.
“Our emphasis this year was ‘Save the Environment and Mother Earth.’ We had installed an eco-friendly idol of Lord Ganesha in our home. We do not intend to immerse the idol (‘Visarjan’ Ceremony) in the sea. We will place the idol of our favourite God in a pot full of water in our home garden. Thereafter, we will use that water to nourish plants,” she said.
Abhay & Varsha Dhoke
Ganesh Chaturthi was ‘very special’ for former New Zealanders Abhay and Varsha Dhoke (Maharashtrians) who now reside in Melbourne, Australia. They marked the Ceremony with great piety on September 5 in their new home.
“We feel extremely blessed to have completed construction of our new home according to our requirements and perform the ‘Grahapravesh’ (Opening) Ceremony three days earlier. Many colleagues and friends visited our home on Ganesh Chaturthi and the following days,” Mr Dhoke said.
V S Srinivas & Chithkala
It has been a significant year for V S Srinivas and his wife Chithkala, who hail from the Princely city of Mysore, which was once the capital of Karnataka. While he pursues his career as an Immigration Administrator at a law firm, she is a software specialist at a commercial organisation.
They performed ‘Ganapathi Pooja’ in the presence of a number of colleagues and friends at their Balmoral home on Monday, September 5.
“It has been a special experience. I learnt a lot about the Hindu religion and the importance of the Ganesh Festival,” Aaron Martin, his colleague and Immigration Law Practitioner at Turner Hopkins Barristers, Solicitors and Notary Public, said.