Thursday was a national holiday in India as it was the first day of the Ganesha Festival although only certain people were off for the day. My understanding is that there are a number of religious holidays each year and the workers can select a certain number of them to take off. The schools were closed and many of the smaller shops were closed as well.
Before I go any further, here is the story of the god Ganesha, as provided by Wikipedia and several individuals who we spoke with…..
Shiva was married to Parvati and they had no children. One day when Shiva was gone, Parvati took clay and created Ganesha, breathed life into it and declared him to be her own loyal son.
The next time Parvati wished to bathe, she posted Ganesha on guard duty at the door. In due course, Shiva came home, only to find this strange boy telling him he couldn’t enter his own house! Furious, Shiva decided he would have to fight him, and in his divine fury severed Ganesha’s head, killing him instantly. When Parvati learned of this, she was so enraged and insulted that she decided to destroy all of creation. Lord Brahma, being the Creator, naturally had his issues with this, and pleaded that she reconsider her drastic plan. She said she would, but only if two conditions were met: one, that Ganesha be brought back to life, and two, that he be forever worshipped before all the other gods.
Shiva, having cooled down by this time, agreed to Parvati’s conditions. He sent Brahma out with orders to bring back the head of the first creature he crosses that is lying with its head facing North. Brahma soon returned with the head of a strong and powerful elephant, which Shiva placed onto Ganesha’s body. Breathing new life into him, he declared Ganesha to be his own son as well, and gave him the status of being foremost among the gods.
The festival itself starts with installing a Ganesha statue in their homes (or larger ones in stores or temples) and doing Puja (worship) before the god. Then, on one day during the next three weeks, the statue is put into water to dissolve.
I read an interesting article about the fact that the ceramic statues were causing problems in local waterways because they didn’t dissolve and often left lead and other residue in the lakes. People were being urged to place the statue into a barrel of water at home rather than polluting the waters.
And here is the lady who loves echo lines…..
There was one that had been partially done by kids and I loved the wording in it….”Wlcome” at the top and “Happy Ganesha Festival” on the right…..
…..and many people going on with business as usual (sweeping the walk in front of her store)…..
As I walked, I was also reminded about the extreme poverty that some people live in. This young boy was brushing his teeth in front of his house which is located next to a HUGE new building that is being constructed…..
I took the bus to NCBS, noting that most of the vendors selling the Ganesha statues were sold out!!!
The two desserts at the bottom right of the plate were interesting. The golden cube had very little taste and was very sweet, but the doughnut-looking thing was excellent….fried dough that had been soaked in a sugar water solution. Don’t you love my technical names for these dishes!!!
Michael had to teach in the late afternoon, but he arrived back at Mandara around 7:15 and we headed out to see what was happening in our neighborhood.
As we walked to the main street, we could hear drums and shouting and followed it along the street. At several points, these guys would stop in the middle of the street and dance as well…..
You can see the video here… https://youtu.be/Uir82hScLP0
We returned to the village area where we had been previously and found it all lit up and full of people……
A bit further brought us to the temple which now had a large stage set up and a crowd of people in the surrounding area…..
Although it was impossible to get very close, the stage featured dancers and very loud music…..
Meanwhile, there was a line of people going into the makeshift temple to do Puja to the Ganesha located there…..
We didn’t stay long but were glad to have seen the spectacle. We could hear music and laughter and fireworks long into the evening!!!